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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 36, Issue 3, July 2010

Michael Bacon
Pages 365-384

Breaking Up is Hard to Do
John Gray’s Complicated Relationship with the Liberal Project

This paper examines the issue that has taken center stage in the writings of John Gray, the bankruptcy of the Enlightenment project and its implications for liberal political theory. The paper outlines Gray’s critique, showing that elements of his argument against what he calls “the liberal project” apply equally to his own value-pluralist position. It suggests that Gray equivocates between rejecting the Enlightenment liberal project and offering a value-pluralist version of that project because of a fear of moral relativism, a fear that, it is argued, is misplaced.

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