Metaphilosophy 40 (3-4):366-381 (2009)

Cynthia A. Stark
University of Utah
There appears to be a tension between two commitments in liberalism. The first is that citizens, as rational agents possessing dignity, are owed a justification for principles of justice. The second is that members of society who do not meet the requirements of rational agency are owed justice. These notions conflict because the first commitment is often expressed through the device of the social contract, which seems to confine the scope of justice to rational agents. So, contractarianism seems to ignore the justice claims of the severely cognitively impaired. To solve this problem, Martha Nussbaum proposes the capabilities approach. The justifiability condition, on this approach, is met by the idea of overlapping consensus. This essay argues that overlapping consensus cannot meet liberalism’s justifiability condition, nor is it more inclusive of the cognitively impaired. Therefore, we have reason to retain the contract device and look for another way to ensure that liberalism respects the justice claims of all.
Keywords rational agency  reflective equilibrium  dignity  cognitive disability  capabilities  overlapping consensus  Martha Nussbaum  liberalism  social contract theory  contractarianism  John Rawls
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9973.2009.01605.x
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References found in this work BETA

Political Liberalism.John Rawls - 1993 - Columbia University Press.
Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.

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Citations of this work BETA

An Agency‐Based Capability Theory of Justice.Rutger Claassen - 2017 - European Journal of Philosophy 25 (4):1279-1304.
Dignity, Capability, and Profound Disability.John Vorhaus - 2015 - Metaphilosophy 46 (3):462-478.
Capability Without Dignity?Joseph J. Fischel & Claire McKinney - 2020 - Contemporary Political Theory 19 (3):404-429.
Luck, Opportunity and Disability.Cynthia A. Stark - 2013 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 16 (3):383-402.

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