Public reason and democracy

Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 11 (3):273-289 (2008)
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Public reasoning is widely thought to be essential to democracy, but there is much disagreement about whether such deliberation should be constrained by a principle of public reason, which may seem to conflict with important democratic values. This paper denies that there is such a conflict, and argues that the distinctive contribution of public reason is to constitute a relationship of civic friendship in a diverse society. Acceptance of public reason would not work against mutual understanding, learning, or compromise, nor does the principle involve any violation of political equality. The real threat to democracy is not public reason, but the framing of public reason by a presumption against state action.



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Andrew Lister
Queen's University

Citations of this work

Collectivizing Public Reason.Lars J. K. Moen - 2024 - Social Theory and Practice 50 (2):285–306.
Coercion and public justification.Colin Bird - 2014 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 13 (3):189-214.
Moral Compromise, Civic Friendship, and Political Reconciliation.Simon Căbulea May - 2011 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 14 (5):581-602.
Self-respect and public reason.Gregory Whitfield - 2017 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 20 (4):446-465.
The Language of Public Reason.Brian Carey - 2020 - Journal of Social Philosophy 53 (1):93-112.

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References found in this work

Political Liberalism.John Rawls - 1993 - Columbia University Press.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.

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