The most facile critique of Rawlsian liberalism consists in claiming that liberalism espouses values just like any other system, so it’s really no different from them. This is a favorite tactic of Stanley Fish:
>But right there, in the invocation of “free development” and “mutual forbearance,” Starr gives the lie to liberal neutrality. Free development (the right of individuals to frame and follow their own life plans) and mutual forbearance (a live-and-let-live attitude toward the beliefs of others as long as they do you no harm) are not values everyone endorses.
So one cannot claim that one is for religious liberty, and be religious, without contradicting himself. If one is, say, Catholic, and one endorses a political system based on government neutrality toward any non-human sacrificing religion, then one is, on Fish’s ever more childish analysis, espousing yet another system of value, as intolerant of intolerance as intolerance is intolerant of tolerance. It’s just crap.
John Holbo at Crooked Timber makes a related point about Fish:
>I would also like to request a moratorium on critiques of liberalism that consist entirely of a flourish for effect – with accompanying air of discovery – of the familiar consideration that liberalism is inconsistent with blanket, categorical tolerance of absolutely every possible act and attitude. That is, liberalism is incompatible, in practice, with any form of illiberalism that destroys liberalism. If something is inconsistent with liberalism, it is inconsistent with liberalism. Yes. Quite. We noticed.
And this points out the silly category problem of Fish’s analysis. Every mental attitude (political, eschatological, metaphorical, emotional, ethical, and so on) is exactly the same. So if I endorse religious liberty, I value it; if I belong to a religion, I value it; if I like Vernaccia, I value it; if I like the Detroit Lions, I value them. All values, all the same. But maybe, just maybe, the problem is the use of values. Maybe they’re not all the same.