Wittgenstein and Rousseau on the context of justification

Philosophy and Social Criticism 22 (3):75-92 (1996)
Abstract
The historical aim of this paper is to reveal some striking similarities in Wittgenstein's treatment of epistemic justification and Rousseau's treatment of political justification. The theoretical aim is to open up the possibility of an understanding of justification which requires neither the discovery of some fundamental ground for judgment nor the alienation of the judge from the community or practice to be justified. Against the prevailing tradition in which justification occurs by reflectively rooting the practice in question in some unquestioned ground outside of and unaffected by that practice, a process which requires of the judge that her reason be untainted by practical involvements, both thinkers assert that justification can take place only within, being practically engaged with, whatever is to be justified. Indeed, we can go so far as to say for these thinkers that practical involvement is precisely the production of the grounds of legitimacy, and reasoned judgment is possible only from this engaged perspective. Key Words: justification • language • Rousseau • social contract • Wittgenstein.
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