Coercion, Stability, and Indoctrination in the Pejorative Sense

33 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2015 Last revised: 23 Jul 2015

See all articles by William A. Edmundson

William A. Edmundson

Georgia State University College of Law

Date Written: July 20, 2015

Abstract

John Rawls argued in A Theory of Justice that “justice as fairness…is likely to have greater stability than the traditional alternatives since it is more in line with the principles of moral psychology” (TJ 399). In support, he presented a psychology of moral development that was informed by a comprehensive liberalism. In Political Liberalism, Rawls confessed that the argument was “unrealistic and must be recast” (PL xix). Rawls, however, never provided a psychology of moral development informed by a specifically political liberalism, leaving it at a disadvantage with respect to comprehensive liberalism itself. I argue that no coherent account is available. But, because Rawls’s Liberal Principle of Legitimacy, along with its implied stricture against “indoctrination in the pejorative sense,” is a creature of ideal rather than non-ideal theory, the deficiency is far less significant than many would assume. In non-ideal circumstances -- such as ours -- political liberalism does not disallow, and in fact requires, compulsory, free early education informed by the best available comprehensive liberal philosophy.

Keywords: Rawls, coercion, stability, moral education, political legitimacy

JEL Classification: K49, Z00

Suggested Citation

Edmundson, William A., Coercion, Stability, and Indoctrination in the Pejorative Sense (July 20, 2015). Georgia State University College of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-24, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2628152 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2628152

William A. Edmundson (Contact Author)

Georgia State University College of Law ( email )

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