Liberal Exclusions and Foundationalism

DePaul, Michael R.
March 1998
Ethical Theory & Moral Practice;Mar1998, Vol. 1 Issue 1, p103
Academic Journal
Certain versions of liberalism exclude from public political discussions the reasons some citizens regard as most fundamental, reasons having to do with their deepest religious, philosophical, moral or political views. This liberal exclusion of deep and deeply held reasons from political discussions has been controversial. In this article I will point out a way in which the discussion seems to presuppose a foundationalist conception of human reasoning. This is rather surprising, inasmuch as one of the foremost advocates of liberalism, John Rawls, is also known for being one of the first advocates of reflective equilibrium, which is clearly a coherentist approach to theory construction and justification. I will begin in Park I by making my charge against an almost embarrassingly crude presentation of the liberal position. Then in Part II I will leap to Rawls‘ version of liberalism, obviously by far the most sophisticated working out of the position, and try to see whether anything remains of my criticism.


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