‘Compromise, Consensus and Neutrality’
Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, Vol. 1, pp. 54-78, 1998
22 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2010 Last revised: 12 Sep 2010
Date Written: January 4, 2010
Compromise forms the lifeblood of liberal democracies within pluralist societies, yet proves problematic for liberals and democrats alike. The authors overcome this difficulty by comparing the mutual acceptance sought by negotiators both from a bargain struck by traders for mutual advantage and from an agreement among trimmers to avoid contentious issues. While the last two forms of compromise offend democratic and liberal canons of justice and fairness, the first does not. Through an investigation of the nature, preconditions and limits of the negotiating process, they indicate what can and what cannot be compromised. They contend compromise so conceived offers a superior liberal response to multiculturalism and pluralism than liberal neutrality can, for neutrality tends to collapse into either a trader's or a trimer's compromise. they illustrate their argument with a discussion of the long historical compromise of America liberal democracy with slavery and its current wrestlings with abortion.
Keywords: compromise, liberalism, negotiation, abortion
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