Analyse & Kritik
Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory
Ed. by Baurmann, Michael / Leist, Anton / Tranow, Ulf
In his most recent work, John Rawls argues that political theory must recognize and accomodate the ‘fact of pluralism’, including the fact of religious diversity. He believes that the liberal commitment to individual rights provides the only feasible model for accomodating religious pluralism. In the paper, I discuss a second form of tolerance, based on group rights rather than individual rights. Drawing on historical examples, I argue that this is is also a feasible model for accomodating religious pluralism. While both models ensure tolerance between groups, only the former tolerates individual dissent within groups. To defend the individual rights model, therefore, liberals must appeal not only to the fact of social pluralism, but also to the value of individual autonomy. This may require abandoning Rawls’s belief that liberalism can and should be defended on purely ‘political’, rather than ‘comprehensive’ grounds.
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