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Political Liberalism and the Virtues of Citizens
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This paper takes as its starting point the fact of reasonable pluralism and defends political liberalism as the best means of accommodating diversity and a plurality of different conceptions of the good. I then ask what is needed for a social order characterized by diversity and a multiplicity of different ways of life to come into existence and perpetuate itself over time. First, I defend political liberalism and argue that the creation of a society that is accommodating of diversity requires that the state be mindful of the spillover effects between public institutions and the private lives of citizens. Second, I argue that the individuals living in such a society must adopt certain virtues, both publicly as well as privately. I achieve this by presenting an account of the virtues of citizens in a political liberal society. Third, I draw out the implications of having a society characterized by reasonable pluralism and many different conceptions of the good, by arguing that such a society should avoid adopting too expansive a role, since an overly ambitious conception of social justice risks stifling the diversity a political liberal society is trying to protect. I conclude with some general remarks about the current state of liberal theorizing and the need for liberal theorists to provide an account of liberalism that includes more than one’s conception of distributive justice and legitimate state coercion.