Justification and Application: The Revival of the Rawls–Habermas Debate

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 42 (3):399-432 (2012)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The Rawls–Habermas debate is having a revival. In this article I argue that both philosophers develop different freestanding conceptions of political legitimacy, and show how they diverge when it comes to how political legitimacy can be justified. Habermas is looking for a deeper justification than Rawls will allow for. I then proceed to show how the different meta-ethical positions yield two different versions of democratic theory, focusing in particular on rights and popular sovereignty. I demonstrate how both conceive of the co-originality of private and public autonomy, and subsequently take issue with Habermas’ reading of Rawls. I argue that Rawls should not be understood as a natural rights theorist, that Habermas misunderstands the role of the original position, and that Rawls cannot be considered a strong constitutionalist. Thus, the real difference between Rawls and Habermas revolves around their different conceptions of political legitimacy



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,323

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Habermas, Rawls, and moral impartiality.Chris McMahon - 2010 - In James Gordon Finlayson & Fabian Freyenhagen (eds.), Habermas and Rawls: Disputing the Political. Rouledge.


Added to PP

121 (#149,919)

6 months
11 (#245,876)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?