Liberalism as Pluralism

by John Holbo on May 31, 2008

I’ve been meaning to write a review of John McGowan’s American Liberalism: An Interpretation For Our Time for some time now. He’s a friend. I read the first draft and hashed it out with the author himself at length. The final version is much better. But it’s taken me a while to recharge for a second go. I’ll just pick on one point:

Liberalism, both as a contingent historical fact and as a matter of its most fervently held principles, is a response to pluralism. We reach here the closest liberalism ever gets to metaphysics. By metaphysics, I mean a claim to have identified an unalterable and universally present fact about the universe. (pp. 40-1)

[click to continue…]