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Jeremy Waldron on Overlapping Consensus - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 96
Overlapping consensus/WaldronVsRawls/Waldron: Social justice, after all, raises concerns that can hardly be dealt with by the strategy of vagueness or evasion associated with overlapping consensus – putting about a set of anodyne formulas that can mean all things to all people. >Overlapping consensus/Rawls, >Justice/Rawls, >Liberalism/Waldron.
WaldronVsOvverlapping consensus: The actual examples of overlapping consensus for a pluralist society provided in Political Liberalism are laughably easy by comparison. Both Kantians and non-Kantians might favour democracy, Rawls says, and both Christians and secularists may well oppose slavery (1993(1): 122–5). The hard part comes when we try to establish an overlapping consensus among (say) Christian fundamentalists, Hindus, secular humanists, scientific determinists, and members of the dot-com generation on the definition of ‘equal opportunity’, the use of economic incentives, and the distinction between liberty and the worth of liberty.
(...) it was not hard to see that insistence on a strong theory of desert might mean that a theory of justice would have to buy into social and religious controversies about virtue. But it was much more difficult to know what to do with that point, or what would be a fair or a neutral way to move on from it. Can we imagine an overlapping consensus on problems like that between (say) the Protestant work ethic, the notion of apostolic poverty, and ideas of the fundamental solidarity of community? It is easy to despair of answering questions like this under the conditions that Rawls’s later work has emphasized.
Gaus I 97
Justice/Waldron: A theory of justice (...) is not just some set of esoteric formulas; it is supposed to be something public, something shared among the citizens as a common point of reference for their debates about the allocation of rights and responsibilities. Cf. >Abortion/Rawls.

1. Rawls, John (1993) Political Liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press.

Waldron, Jeremy 2004. „Liberalism, Political and Comprehensive“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Waldron, Jeremy
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004

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