I have known Kevin and his work for five years, and I am glad that so many great people have joined in this reading group. Special thanks go to Simon May for supporting our discussion. I will here keep my summary remarks to just the most central issues of the chapter for, despite the many things Kevin and I agree about, I have a number of issues to raise.
Chapter 6 draws out the implications of convergence liberalism in two areas. First, Kevin is concerned to bring out the implications for the political production of law, including issues of public advocacy for policies and judicial interpretation of laws. Second, Kevin considers the issue of legal accommodation, illustrating the convergence analysis of accommodation with illustrations drawn from case law regarding the free exercise of religion.
Philosophy and Public Issues
Call for papers
Symposium: Illiberal Views in Liberal States
With a discussion of Corey Brettschneider ’s When the State Speaks, What Should It Say? (Princeton University Press, 2012)
Long Abstract (1,000 words max): 15 March, 2015
Full paper (10,000 words max, upon acceptance): 15 June, 2015
Annabelle Lever (University of Geneva), Jennifer Rubinstein (University of Virginia), Sarah Conly (Bowdoin College), Kevin Vallier (Bowling Green State University) and Corey Brettschneider (Brown University)
Aims and Background
Moral, political or religious pluralism is a permanent feature of many contemporary societies. All moral philosophers and political theorists within the liberal tradition seem to agree on this. However, they profoundly disagree about how to deal with moral, political or religious views that do not accept or even explicitly deny some of liberalism’s tenets, like the idea that all citizens must equally enjoy certain freedoms—such as freedom of expression or of conscience. Here the stakes are high for liberal theorists: if they accept that some citizens live according to, and expressed, some illiberal views, then the liberal State might need to accept conducts and ideas that would otherwise be forbidden; on the other end, if the liberal State reject certain illiberal views, this might contradict or violate liberalism’s foundations—like the idea that a view cannot be legitimately imposed. How should liberals address this point?
Thanks very much to Lori to an extensive summary of Chapter 5 and probing comments. I hope that my replies continue to advance the discussion. I think there are some things I could clear up about the role of idealization in Rawls and my own work, some interesting issues surrounding judicial reasoning (that I talk about in much more detail in Chapter 6) and the role of reasonableness in my account of public justification.
I. Idealization – Rawls and Me
Lori’s first worry is that I shouldn’t construe Rawls as a radical idealization theorist, at least not in his later work. I grant that by Political Liberalism, Rawls is open to multiple ways of formulating a theory of justice, or a conception of justice, but I wasn’t aware he was open to multiple models of idealization. I thought the idea was that all reasonable political conceptions have an original position, but select different principles, but I didn’t think varying the degree of idealization was part of that. But then again, Rawls doesn’t say.
Moderate Idealization: Preserving Diversity
A central part of Kevin’s defense of convergence as a superior model of public justification depends upon how citizens are idealized. Radical idealization—where citizens are posited to be fully rational and fully informed—is problematic for Kevin’s aim of reconciling religious and liberal citizens. Radical idealization of citizens is problematic because the reasons that fully informed, rational citizens have may be vastly different than the reasons, we, here and now, have. Taking the reasons of radically idealized citizens as reasons for us, here and now, may challenge our integrity or may undercut some of our liberties. Moreover, were the convergence model to employ radical idealization the argument for restraint may be resurrected. Hence, it is crucially important for Kevin’s project that he provide a defensible account of moderate idealization of citizens that doesn’t carry the burdens of radical idealization.
We are extending the deadline for submitting abstracts for BGSU’s conference on the scope of religious exemptions until December 1st, 2014.
CALL FOR ABSTRACTS
The Bowling Green Workshop in Applied Ethics and Public Policy
The Scope of Religious Exemptions
April 17th-18th, 2015
The Bowling Green Workshop in Applied Ethics and Public Policy will take place in Bowling Green, Ohio, April 17th-18th, 2015. The keynote speakers are Robert Audi (University of Notre Dame) and Andrew Koppelman (Northwestern University).
Those interested in presenting a paper are invited to submit a 2-3 page abstract (double-spaced) by December 1st, 2014. We welcome submissions in all areas in applied ethics and philosophical issues relevant to this year’s conference theme: the scope of religious exemptions. We are especially focused on papers that address normative questions about religious exemptions, including the moral-philosophical justifications for religious exemptions and how often and to whom religious exemptions should be granted. We will consider multiple approaches to the topic, not merely in political philosophy and political theory, but normative ethics, metaethics and applied ethics.
Let me begin by thanking Blain for an excellent recap of Chapter 4 of the book, which is arguably the centerpiece chapter. He raises five important concerns, but I’m going to set two aside. First, Blain raises the question of my Rawls exegesis. I suspect that is something better dealt with in a journal format or conference proceeding. It is interesting and important, but my main arguments do not depend on it. I will say, briefly, that yes, the process of generating convergence justifications can encourage revision of pieces of certain comprehensive doctrines. The second issue I set aside concerns my indirect model of public justification and the idea that restraint (of a certain sort) applies to legislators but not to citizens. That is one of the two main questions at issue in Chapter 6, so I’d like to push discussion to that post. But briefly, a lot of the case for the indirect model is based on the fact that citizens complying with restraint is neither necessary nor sufficient to promote publicly justified outcomes given all the other stages between a popular vote and the passage of legislation.