Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The political theory of contemporary liberalism is dominated by the figure of John Rawls. In his two most famous works, A Theory of Justice (1971) and Political Liberalism (1993), Rawls fashioned more or less demanding liberal conceptions of political morality that represent the point of departure for alternative liberal and nonliberal conceptions. To understand debates within contemporary liberalism fully, we must draw a distinction between the political principles that it propounds and the fundamental philosophical ideals on the basis of which those principles are defended. The political principles of contemporary liberalism pertain to the regulation of major social, political, and economic institutions. In this regard, contemporary liberalism affirms the toleration of diverse ways of living and beliefs, or what Rawls calls “conceptions of the good.” Liberal toleration finds expression in its affirmation of various civil and political liberties—the freedoms of conscience, speech, and association, as well as democratic freedoms and ...