Write a 1,500-1,800-word double-spaced paper on one of the following topic
John Rawls’ aim in Political Liberalism is to establish fair and stable foundations for social unity in liberal democratic systems based on principles that are neutral toward the various reasonable comprehensive doctrines held by citizens. He argues that an “overlapping consensus” aided by the proper use of “public reason” provides the best way to achieve and maintain such neutrality. This is so, he claims, because public reason “neither criticizes not attacks any comprehensive doctrine” (p. 441) that forms part of the overlapping consensus.
Do you agree with Rawls’ claim that ideas such as the overlapping consensus and public reason are neutral, fair, or impartial towards different comprehensive doctrines? Or do you think ideas such as the overlapping consensus and public reason actually violate the principles of neutrality, impartiality, and fairness that Rawls aims to uphold?
In answering this question, you should 1) explain what Rawls means by the ideas of “overlapping consensus” and “public reason” and 2) explain why Rawls claims they are neutral, fair, or impartial ideas. For the purposes of this essay, you may use the words neutral, fair, and impartial interchangeably. Whenever necessary and appropriate, use specific examples (e.g., of actual comprehensive doctrines, actual political controversies, etc.) to illustrate or explain your points.
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