The basic method of Nelson Tebbe’s fine book, “Religious Freedom in an Egalitarian Age,” is what John Rawls called “reflective equilibrium”. Rawls famously proposed a theory of justice that aimed to be “strictly deductive.” His deductions, however, take place within a larger account of justification that he calls “reflective equilibrium,” in which we try to bring our considered moral judgments into line with our more general principles. “A conception of justice cannot be deduced from selfevident premises or conditions on principles; instead, its justification is the matter of the mutual support of many considerations, of everything fitting together into one coherent view.” Any general theory must be consistent with the specific judgments in which we have the greatest confidence, such as our judgments “that religious intolerance and racial discrimination are unjust.” These are “provisional fixed points [into] which we presume any conception of justice must fit.” The deduction, in short, does not always go in one direction. “It is a mistake to think of abstract conceptions and general principles as always overriding more particular judgments.”



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