Reflections on the Reasonable and the Rational in Conflict Resolution

Most familiar approaches to social conflict moot reasonable ways of dealing with conflict, ways that aim to serve values such as legitimacy, justice, morality, fairness, fidelity to individual preferences, and so on. In this paper, I explore an alternative approach to social conflict that contrasts with the leading approaches of Rawlsians, perfectionists, and social choice theorists. The proposed approach takes intrinsic features of the conflict—what I call a conflict's evaluative 'structure'—as grounds for a rational way of responding to that conflict. Like conflict within a single person, social conflict can have a distinctive evaluative structure that supports certain rational responses over others. I suggest that one common structure in both intra- and interpersonal cases of conflict supports the rational response of 'self-governance'. Self-governance in the case of social conflict involves a society's deliberating over the question, 'What kind of society should we be?' In liberal democracies, this rational response is also a reasonable one.
Keywords social conflict, social choice, rationality, rawls, liberalism, conflict resolution
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DOI 10.2307/20619133
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References found in this work BETA
John Rawls (1993). Political Liberalism. Columbia University Press.
Amy Gutmann (1996). Democracy and Disagreement. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

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