Civic equality as a democratic basis for public reason

Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 27 (2):133-155 (2024)
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Abstract

Many democratic theorists hold that when a decision is collectively made in the right kind of way, in accordance with the right procedure, it is permissible to enforce it. They deny that there are further requirements on the type of reasons that can permissibly be used to justify laws and policies. In this paper, I argue that democratic theorists are mistaken about this. So-called public reason requirements follow from commitments that most of them already hold. Drawing on the democratic ideal of civic equality, I show that it can successfully explain why political decision-making must have the right sort of procedure-independent justification. However, contra standard accounts of public reason, I argue that laws and policies need to be justified with convergence accessible, not shared, reasons. Public reasons are those that are accessible in light of evaluative standards shared by all, or in light of every citizen’s private evaluative standards. Since this will make the set of public reasons wider, it makes the theory more palatable to sceptics while retaining the framework’s justificatory potential.

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Citations of this work

Can Civic Friendship Ground Public Reason?Paul Billingham & Anthony Taylor - 2023 - Philosophical Quarterly 74 (1):24-45.
Discursive optimism defended.Maxime Lepoutre - 2023 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 22 (3):357-374.

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References found in this work

What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Philosophy 63 (243):119-122.
Liberalism’s Religion.Cécile Laborde (ed.) - 2017 - Harvard University Press.
Rule Over None II: Social Equality and the Justification of Democracy.Niko Kolodny - 2014 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 42 (4):287-336.

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