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John RawlsDebating the Major Questions$
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Jon Mandle and Sarah Roberts-Cady

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190859213

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190859213.001.0001

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Tolerating Decent Societies

Tolerating Decent Societies

A Defense of the Law of Peoples

(p.371) 20 Tolerating Decent Societies
John Rawls

Jon Mandle

Oxford University Press

Rawls argues that the public reason of a liberal democratic society should aim to include—and therefore tolerate—all reasonable persons. But the public reason that he defends for the Society of Peoples (globally) is considerably more inclusive. Rawls argues for the toleration of “decent” societies that are not liberal democracies. Critics have charged that such toleration, while perhaps pragmatic, is unprincipled. But a careful examination of Rawls’s criteria for “decency” reveals a defense of Rawls’s position that is grounded in the institutional requirements for a society to be able to make its own legitimate political decisions.

Keywords:   John Rawls, Law of Peoples, toleration, Society of Peoples, decent society, public reason, human rights, legitimacy

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