Political Liberalism and Its Feminist Potential
Edenberg, Elizabeth F.
Rawlsian political liberalism is often rejected by feminist philosophers on the grounds that it reinstates a problematic public/private divide and includes sexist comprehensive doctrines as reasonable. My dissertation reclaims a revised version of Rawlsian political liberalism for feminist objectives. Using children who are raised in accordance with sexist comprehensive doctrines as a test case, I investigate the permissible limitations for reasonable pluralism. In the first half of my dissertation, I investigate challenges posed to Rawlsian stability and civic education. I argue that Rawls’s aim of making reasonableness broadly inclusive for political purposes is in tension with his goal of using reasonableness to delineate the scope of liberal legitimacy. To resolve this tension, I suggest that we separate liberal legitimacy from reasonableness. I then broaden the analysis by exploring the implications of the bifurcation of reasonableness for both feminism and political liberalism. I argue that the resulting theory is a defensible version of political liberalism that serves some crucially important feminist aims without becoming a comprehensive feminist theory.