Philosophia 48 (5):1777-1799 (2020)

Thomas M. Besch
Wuhan University
Public justification in political liberalism is often conceptualized in light of Rawls’s view of its role in a hypothetical well-ordered society as an ideal or idealizing form of justification that applies a putatively reasonable conception of political justice to political matters. But Rawls implicates a different idea of public justification in his doctrine of general reflective equilibrium. The paper engages this second, more fundamental idea. Public justification in this second sense is actualist and fundamental. It is actualist in that it fully enfranchises actual reasonable citizens. It is fundamental in that political liberalism qualifies conceptions of political justice as reasonable to begin with only if they can be accepted coherently by actual reasonable citizens. Together, these features invite the long-standing concern that actualist political liberalism is objectionably exclusionary. I argue that the exclusion objection, while plausible, is more problematic in own right than it seems if actualist and fundamental public justification hypotheticalizes and discursive respect is compatible with substantive discursive inequality. This leaves proponents and critics of political liberalism with deeper questions about the nature of permissible discursive inequality in public justification.
Keywords Public justification  Political liberalism  Rawls  Larmore  Respect  Discursive equality  Reflective equilibrium  Discursive respect
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Reprint years 2020
DOI 10.1007/s11406-020-00203-8
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References found in this work BETA

Justice as Fairness: A Restatement.John Rawls (ed.) - 2001 - Harvard University Press.
Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
Liberalism Without Perfection.Jonathan Quong - 2010 - Oxford University Press.
Perfectionist Liberalism and Political Liberalism.Martha C. Nussbaum - 2011 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 39 (1):3-45.

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