A Pragmatist Critique of Liberal Epistemology: Towards a Practice-Based Account of Public Reason

Critical Horizons 12 (3):293 - 316 (2012)
Abstract
This paper tackles with the issue of the place of comprehensive beliefs within the public space. It tries to strike a middle path between the liberal ban on comprehensive beliefs and the anti-liberal claim that comprehensive beliefs should be given full pride of place in public deliberations. The article relies on arguments that are inspired by the pragmatist tradition. It starts locating the main cause of failures at articulating comprehensive beliefs and public reason in a central feature of liberal epistemology, namely the way it conceives public reason via a preliminary distinction between public and non public beliefs. After criticizing this distinction, the article introduces a distinction between the normative practice of justification and the normative practice of adjudication as a more perspicuous way to establish the place that comprehensive beliefs should play within political forums. It then concludes showing that this approach provides a satisfying answer to the issue of the public role of comprehensive beliefs in a liberal democratic regime that is respectful of citizens’ thick identities while at the same time complying with the requirements of respect set by the liberal tradition. Keywords: public reason and religion - pragmatism - liberalism - communitarianism - normative practices
Keywords public reason  normative practices  john rawls  liberalism  communitarianism  john dewey
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James Boettcher (2004). What is Reasonableness? Philosophy and Social Criticism 30 (5-6):597-621.
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