The Introduction sets out what is at stake in Confident Pluralism. Our deep differences call into question our constitutional aspiration for “a more perfect union,” our national metaphor of a great “melting pot,” and the promise of our nation's seal, E pluribus unum. Our differences pervade our backgrounds, preferences, and allegiances. They affect not only what we think, but also how we think, and how we see the world. John Rawls called it the “fact of pluralism.” The fact of pluralism creates a practical problem in need of a political solution. Rousseau offered one possibility: “it is impossible to live at peace with those we regard as damned.” Confident Pluralism insists that Rousseau was wrong: our shared existence is not only possible, but also necessary. Instead of the elusive goal of E pluribus unum, it suggests a more modest possibility—that we can live together in our “many-ness.” That vision does not entail Pollyannaish illusions that we will solve all of our differences and live happily ever after. Few people think that our differences will go away—we are stuck with the good, the bad, and the ugly of pluralism. But Confident Pluralism remains possible in both law and society.
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