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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 42, Issue 3, July 2016

Pietro Maffettone
Pages 525-554
DOI: 10.5840/soctheorpract201642315

Should We Tolerate Benevolent Absolutisms?

In this paper, I argue that the real problem with Rawls’s view of international toleration is that, properly understood, it seems not too inclusive, but not inclusive enough. I examine the standing of what Rawls calls “benevolent absolutisms.” According to Rawls, their lack of internal mechanisms of collective will-formation means that benevolent absolutisms cannot be seen as members in good standing of the Society of Peoples. I claim that if we accept the best reconstruction of Rawls’s argument for tolerating decent peoples, then The Law of Peoples does not provide conclusive reasons not to tolerate benevolent absolutisms.

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