John Rawls, "Justice as Fairness: Political Not Metaphysical" Philosophy & Public Affairs 14.3 (Summer 1985): 223-251. See also John Rawls, Political Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993).
 John Rawls, Political Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993).
 John Rawls, "Justice as Fairness: Political Not Metaphysical."
[ 4] John Rawls, "Justice as Fairness: Political Not Metaphysical" (236-239).  Rawls takes the American system of constitutional rule for granted and proposes a way of settling differences within that framework which does not presuppose a particular ethical theory or comprehensive moral doctrine. He is interpreted by Richard Rorty, in "The Priority of Democracy to Philosophy," in Gene Outka and John P. Reeder, Jr., eds. Prospects for a Common Morality (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993): 254-278, as being a Deweyan and a pragmatic, who "disengages the question of whether we ought to be tolerant and Socratic from the question of whether this strategy will lead to truth" (266). I think Rorty's interpretation is largely correct; however, to base the conclusion that democracy is prior to philosophy from Rawls' argument here seems to me quite tenuous. In Rawls' ideal conception of a just society, it seems possible that philosophy takes precedence in terms of justifications of various actions and decisions by the members of the society, who put forward such reasoned arguments to try to convince the other parts. This is a central activity in a democracy. These justifications certainly cannot be such that they destroy the fabric which make such public forum of disagreements and arguments possible in the first place. This possibility, according to Rawls, is founded on political terms, which have nothing to do with philosophy, including a tenet that democracy is prior to philosophy.
 This, however, does not imply that schemes are rigid or that claims to knowledge and truth are forever bound within already existing schemes. Thus the potential relativistic import of the assertion is denied, for when schemes are not fixed and stabilized, they can be revised and adapted to suit new, contingent conditions. Donald Davidson, in "On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme," (in Donald Davidson, Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984]: 183-198) argues convincingly that languages, and hence schemes, are in principle fully intertranslatable. Thus, the idea of schemes as rigid and unrevisable is incoherent. The process of changing schemes and adopting new ones is also described by Rorty as that of adopting a new set of vocabulary and discarding old one as needs arise. See Richard Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1979): 295-311.
 Objective judgment of cultures is possible since one does not presuppose the assumptions of one's own culture as absolute and unrevisable. Thus one can have a pragmatic realization that elements in another culture could serve one's purposes better. See Alasdair MacIntyre, Whose Justice? Which Rationality? (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988): 349-369.
 In Whose Justice? Which Rationality?, MacIntyre argues that translations from a language constitutive of one tradition into another constitutive of another, widely different tradition is impossible if extensive use of glosses and interpretations are not given and this by no means guarantees that the standards of truth and falsity will be the same in each tradition (379-381). According to MacIntyre, logical incompatibility may result from such translation from incommensurable languages, and a language translated into another might appear totally false or unacceptable (380). However, that languages constitutive of incommensurable traditions cannot be translated into the other without appearing, within the target language itself, false in that language by no means shows that translations from incommensurable languages are not possible or that there are some elements of the source language which could not be rendered in the target language. Since languages, like traditions, are always subject to change and since it is possible that adherents of one language come to understand the traditions constituted by the other language, the speakers of the target language will know that the translated piece in their language, appearing prima facie to be false when judged naively within the resources of his own original language, only appears to be so since the correct standard cannot be that of the original language. Judgment of unacceptability or falsity happens only when strictly literal translation is effected, but not the kind of translation which would make possible critical assessment, changes within a tradition, or most importantly the possibility of disparate elements in one society living together in a fair and equitable manner, a kind of translation which arguably represents more accurately the true nature of the meaning of the source language. Thus it is perfectly possible that a tolerant member of one religion, or of a comprehensive moral doctrine, sees teachings of another as also promoting the welfare of the whole, and he could then reinterpret the foreign teachings in such a way that turn out to be justifiable in his own tradition-constitutive language, and see that the fundamentalist, orthodox element in his tradition is contrary to what is justifiably the true meaning of his own tradition.