Rawls's wide view of public reason: Not wide enough

Res Publica 6 (1):49-72 (2000)
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Abstract

What sorts of reasons are i) required and ii) morally acceptable when citizens in a pluralist liberal democracy undertake to resolve pressing political issues? This paper presents and then critically examines John Rawls''s answer to this question: his so called wide-view of public reason. Rawls''s view requires that the content of liberal public reason prove rich enough to yield a reasoned and determinate resolution for most if not all fundamental political issues. I argue that the content of liberal public reason will prove inadequate in this regard far more often than Rawls suspects.

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David Reidy
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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