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Beyond Politics as Usual: Is Reconciliation Compatible with Liberalism?

Philpott, Daniel
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) In,Philpott Daniel, editor, The Politics of Past Evil: Religion, Reconciliation, and the Dilemmas of Transitional Justice University of Notre Dame Press pp.11-42

Here, I seek to describe what I will call “political reconciliation” – as a concept and as a set of institutional practices – and explain why it is in tension with liberalism. I then examine liberal arguments in favor of political reconciliation and aim to show the weakness of their grounds. In the end, though, we should not abandon hope for the prospect of grafting reconciliation into liberal thought and troubled transitional politics. Its promise is too great to give up easily. But the medicine of reconciliation will be accepted only by a favorable liberal physiology, a liberalism constituted so as not to pose its usual objections and so as to be open to incorporating warrants that lie outside its own concepts. Reconciliation goes beyond politics as usual. Such warrants are available in a “comprehensive conception,” to borrow the term of John Rawls, that itself offers deep grounds for reconciliation and that is also favorable to liberal democratic institutions. Political theologies of reconciliation of recent vintage are examples of such comprehensive conceptions. The essays that follow this one then take up this very project. (excerpt)


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