Legitimacy, Democracy and Public Justification: Rawls' Political Liberalism Versus Gaus' Justificatory Liberalism

Res Publica 20 (1):9-25 (2014)
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Abstract

Public justification-based accounts of liberal legitimacy rely on the idea that a polity’s basic structure should, in some sense, be acceptable to its citizens. In this paper I discuss the prospects of that approach through the lens of Gerald Gaus’ critique of John Rawls’ paradigmatic account of democratic public justification. I argue that Gaus does succeed in pointing out some significant problems for Rawls’ political liberalism; yet his alternative, justificatory liberalism, is not voluntaristic enough to satisfy the desiderata of a genuinely democratic theory of public justification. So I contend that—pace Gaus, but also Rawls—rather than simply amending political liberalism, the claims of justificatory liberalism bring out fatal tensions between the desiderata of any theory of liberal-democratic legitimacy through public justification.

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Enzo Rossi
University of Amsterdam

References found in this work

Political Liberalism.John Rawls - 1993 - Columbia University Press.
Liberalism Without Perfection.Jonathan Quong - 2010 - Oxford University Press.
Equality and Partiality.Thomas Nagel - 1991 - New York, US: OUP Usa. Edited by Louis P. Pojman & Robert Westmoreland.
Collected papers.John Rawls - 1999 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Edited by Samuel Richard Freeman.

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