Croatian Journal of Philosophy 9 (1):101-115 (2009)
Rawls’ idea of overlapping consensus is crucial for the public justification of a political conception of justice in modern democratic societies. While overlapping consensus is mostly understood empirically, in the first part of this article we argue that a normative interpretation is more appropriate. Moreover, we try to show that Baccarini’s proposal of qualified consensus, in contrast to an assumed empirical reading, actually exploits the potentials of a normative reading. In the second part, we concern ourselves with the epistemological implications of a normative understanding of overlapping consensus or, more precisely, with the issue of epistemic deontologism. If we claim that consensus should be understood as agreement about not already existing beliefs and reasons, but about beliefs and reasons that citizens should acquire, it can be argued that this implies a thesis about voluntary control over beliefs. We try to show that a normative reading can be compatible with strategies based both on doxastic voluntarism and doxastic involuntarism
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