The paper begins with a hypothetical story and asks: how should a Rawlsian political liberal state justify its coercion over Nozick, an unreasonable but intelligible citizen (UIC)? I use this thought experiment to illustrate a recent critique of political liberalism. It argues that political liberalism coerces UIC on a sectarian ground. Call it the sectarian critique. My paper addresses the sectarian critique from a political liberal perspective. I suggest a condition of state conjecture, which argues that the state officials should use conjecture to engage with UIC, like Nozick. This brings two benefits to the stability of a political liberal society. First, UIC may be convinced and become reasonable citizens. Secondly, the activity of offering conjectures can strengthen the public confidence of political liberalism as a valuable collective project. Although, eventually, some UIC may remain unpersuaded and be coerced on grounds that are unjustified to them, the force of the sectarian critique will be significantly weakened after the condition of state conjecture is fulfilled.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Political liberalism