On Practical Constructivism and Reasonableness

Dissertation, University of Oxford (2004)
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Abstract

The dissertation defends that the often-assumed link between constructivism and universalism builds on non-constructivist, perfectionist grounds. To this end, I argue that an exemplary form of universalist constructivism – i.e., O’Neill’s Kantian constructivism – can defend its universalist commitments against an influential particularist form of constructivism – i.e., political liberalism as advanced by Rawls, Macedo, and Larmore – only if it invokes a perfectionist view of the good. (En route, I show why political liberalism is a form of particularism and reconstruct the role of its conception of public justification, its implied contextualism about justified belief, its conceptions of toleration, neutrality, good reasons, and legitimacy, and, not least, its justification-constitutive conception of reasonableness.) Contrary to what is often assumed, then, at the level of a vindication of the very project of a universalist constructivism, universalist constructivists should construe perfectionists not as their opponents, but as partial, though uneasy, allies.

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Author's Profile

Thomas M. Besch
Wuhan University

References found in this work

Kantian constructivism in moral theory.John Rawls - 1980 - Journal of Philosophy 77 (9):515-572.
Two kinds of respect.Stephen L. Darwall - 1977 - Ethics 88 (1):36-49.
Good and Evil.Peter Geach - 1956 - Analysis 17 (2):33 - 42.
Contractualism and utilitarianism.Thomas M. Scanlon - 1982 - In Amartya Kumar Sen & Bernard Arthur Owen Williams (eds.), Utilitarianism and Beyond. Cambridge University Press. pp. 103--128.
The Moral Basis of Political Liberalism.Charles Larmore - 1999 - Journal of Philosophy 96 (12):599.

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