Sociological not political: Rawls and the reconstructive social sciences

Like many critics of Rawls, Habermas believes that the Original Position (OP) implicitly utilizes normative (and unargued for) assumptions. The author defends the OP by arguing that its basic concepts are the product of a rational reconstruction of the everyday know-how, or common sense, employed by citizens in democratic practices. The author identifies this reconstruction in Rawls's work but suggests that while this answers the charge of circularity, it raises the problem of contextual relativism. It is concluded that Rawls can avoid such relativism only on a stronger commitment to social scientific research in support of a more transcendental form of rational reconstruction.
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DOI 10.1177/004839310103100101
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