Politics, Philosophy and Economics 17 (1):97-113 (2018)

Anthony Taylor
Oxford University
A distinctive position in contemporary political philosophy is occupied by those who defend the principle of public justification. This principle states that the moral or political rules that govern our common life must be in some sense justifiable to all reasonable citizens. In this article, I evaluate Gerald Gaus’s defence of this principle, which holds that it is presupposed by our moral reactive attitudes of resentment and indignation. He argues, echoing P.F. Strawson in ‘Freedom and Resentment’, that these attitudes are so deep a part of us that we are unable to rationally reject them. I examine and reject this defence of the principle. Considering the nature of our commitment to the moral reactive attitudes, I argue that those attitudes need not be grounded in a commitment to public justification. The availability of alternative grounds for these attitudes shows, contra Gaus, that we can rationally reject the principle of public justification while maintaining a wholehearted commitment to the reactive attitudes.
Keywords public justification  public reason  liberal legitimacy  moral responsibility  reactive attitudes
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Reprint years 2017, 2018
DOI 10.1177/1470594X17695070
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References found in this work BETA

Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility.Harry Frankfurt - 1969 - Journal of Philosophy 66 (23):829.
Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.

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Citations of this work BETA

Public Reason.Jonathan Quong - 2013 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Do the Reactive Attitudes Justify Public Reason?Collis Tahzib - 2019 - European Journal of Political Theory 21 (3):147488511988620.
Public Justification, Gender, and the Family.Elsa Kugelberg & Henrik D. Kugelberg - forthcoming - European Journal of Political Theory.
Do the Reactive Attitudes Justify Public Reason?Collis Tahzib - 2019 - European Journal of Political Theory 21 (3):423-444.

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