The Academic Liberal

Peter Berkowitz, "The Academic Liberal," The Weekly Standard, December 16, 2002.


The influence of Rawls’s work has been massive. One quickly saw professors doing nothing but elaborating or applying ideas from Rawls’s theory. And those who did not occupy themselves with criticizing Rawls–those who attempted anything in political philosophy not defined by the Rawlsian project–were thought not to be practicing political philosophy at all. Rawls is rightly praised for his vital contribution in restoring exploration of the moral foundations of liberalism to a place of honor among professional philosophers. But the anti-intellectualism and illiberalism nourished by his thought–which equates liberalism with Rawlsian liberalism, and Rawlsian liberalism with political philosophy itself–is also a major part of Rawls’s legacy.