Finding Reasons for being Reasonable: Interrogating Rawls

Sophia 54 (2):117-141 (2015)
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This essay discusses Rawls distinction between the reasonable and the rational in the context of the liberal effort to establish the priority of the right over the good. It argues that inarticulacy about the good makes it difficult for Rawls to find arguments in support of a minimal conception of the reasonable overlapping consensus. The essay examines Rawls’ arguments in support of the distinction between the rational and the reasonable. The paper suggests that in terms of these arguments, the term reasonable seems to be a derivative of the rational. However, this does not stop Rawls from employing that term as if the distinction has been satisfactorily made. Therefore, the philosophical work expected from the term reasonable in Rawls is more than that term is legitimately able to do. Rawls’ arguments explaining reasonable and his arguments employing the term reasonable as a virtue of citizens begin to turn on an equivocation on the use of that term. The conclusion suggests that it is possible to reconstruct Rawls so that the term reasonable can be used in a substantive normative sense without endangering the stability of the overlapping consensus. This is possible if Rawls’ conception of the moral powers of citizens can be philosophically reconstructed as forming part of the basic moral potential of citizens as persons. Such moral potential can be conceived, as prior to and independent of, a complete/partial conception of the good in terms of which that potential might find a complete or partial articulation



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Bindu Puri
Jawaharlal Nehru University

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References found in this work

Sources of the self: the making of the modern identity.Charles Taylor - 1989 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
The idea of justice.Amartya Sen - 2009 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity.Charles Taylor - 1989 - Cambridge, Mass.: Cambridge University Press.
Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
Whose Justice? Which Rationality?Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 1988 - University of Notre Dame Press.

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