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Ethics in the Public DomainEssays in the Morality of Law and Politics$
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Joseph Raz

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780198260691

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198260691.001.0001

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Facing Diversity: The Case of Epistemic Abstinence

Facing Diversity: The Case of Epistemic Abstinence

(p.60) 4 Facing Diversity: The Case of Epistemic Abstinence
Ethics in the Public Domain


Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the contemporary philosophical responses of John Rawls and Thomas Nagel to the diversity of opinions, customs, and ideologies prevalent in society. Their responses differ in many important respects but share a common attitude marked by three features. First, the response of both thinkers to diversity is basically tolerant. Second, the justification of tolerance is based on the considerations of fairness. Third, these considerations lead them to draw boundaries to the reasons on which governments may act based on epistemic distinctions. The discussion challenges the cogency of reasons offered by both writers for epistemic abstinence.

Keywords:   John Rawles, Thomas Nagel, epistemic abstinence, political independence, impartiality, truth

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