Public Reason, Compromise within Consensus, and Legitimacy

In Nurdane Şimsek, Stephen Snyder & Manuel Knoll (eds.), New Perspectives on Distributive Justice: Deep Disagreements, Pluralism, and the Problem of Consensus. De Gruyter. pp. 225-242 (2018)
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A central idea of public reason liberalism is that the exercise of political power is legitimate when supported only by reasons which all citizens accept. Public reason serves as a necessary standard for evaluating the legitimacy of political decisions. In this paper, I examine the directive to employ public reason from the citizens’ perspective. I suggest that employing public reason potentially involves them engaging in different types of compromise. I consider how acknowledging these compromises sheds light on public reason liberalism. Public reason may not offer a necessary standard for evaluating the legitimacy of decisions, and the evaluation it offers may not have great weight relative to other moral and political considerations.



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Chong-Ming Lim
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

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