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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 40, Issue 4, October 2014

Saba Fatima
Pages 591-608
DOI: 10.5840/soctheorpract201440435

Liberalism and the Muslim-American Predicament

The underlying objective of this project is to examine the ways in which the exclusionary status of Muslim Americans remains unchallenged within John Rawls’s version of political liberalism. Toward this end, I argue that the stipulation of genuine belief in what is reasonably accessible to others in our society is an unreasonable expectation from minorities, given our awareness of how we are perceived by others. Second, using the work of Lisa Schwartzman, I show that Rawls’s reliance on the abstraction of a closed society legitimizes the exclusion of citizens with marginal social locations. And finally, applying Charles Mills’s critique of ideal theory, I argue that Rawls’s idealization of a posture of civic friendship detracts from a discussion of equally significant societal values while sustaining existing social hierarchies.

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