October 15, 2011


The Range of Justice (or, How to Retrieve Liberal Sectual Tolerance) (Gerald Gaus, October 10th, 2011, Cato)

The morally mature citizen and philosopher knows that a diverse society will never come to share a conception of the best, and that means that she must reconcile herself to living under principles and practices that she does not think are the best, or in fact anything very close to it. Only this mature attitude allows widespread reconciliation to a social world of diversity, which includes diversity of political views. Those with such a mature attitude will not be alienated from their social and political world as are so many of today's political philosophers and citizens; they will not chafe at being subject to principles and practices that they deem fall far short of the best as they have come to understand it.

Of course one with a mature attitude that allows reconciliation to a social and political world of diversity need not reconcile oneself to every possible principle or practice. The mature attitude need not abandon the critical stance: it must place some limits on what can be endorsed. In short, while abandoning the optimizing stance it must not endorse repression and injustice. The mature attitude sees the distance between falling short of the best and oppression -- a difference the sectarian cannot see. The sectarian political philosopher (at least in her writings though not in her actual social life) is apt to deem as unjust all those regimes that do not conform to her favored "theory of justice." The difference, though, between less-than-the-best and the unacceptable is real. There is a wide range of the just. In a world of diversity, a just and free society can only be achieved once citizens and philosophers appreciate the distance between what is acceptable and their sect's vision of the best.

This is why the West reached the End of History first.  We recognize that the best can not come from merely human endeavor but awaits the return of the Messiah. 

Posted by at October 15, 2011 7:12 AM

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