Why the Facts Matter to Public Justification

Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society 27 (2):198-212 (2015)
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ABSTRACTIt is often held that disagreement over non-normative facts is less significant to the project of public justification than disagreement over relevant moral norms. But this dismissal of non-normative factual disagreement is unjustified—an ad hoc attempt to save the ideal of public justification from the endemic actual disagreement that threatens it. Disagreement over norms is relevant to political legitimacy; so, too, is disagreement over facts. I draw two implications from this point. First, inasmuch as accounts of public justification typically involve a unanimity condition, public justification should not be thought a desideratum of political legitimacy. Second, virtuous political praxis will often involve enforcing legislation in spite of unresolved non-normative factual disagreement. That is, with respect to legitimacy, there is nothing morally amiss about such legislation. Clearly these last claims presuppose some basis for legitimacy other than agreement; I will only gesture at what this might be. Assuming that much actual legislation is indeed legitimate, though—in spite of extant normative and non-normative disagreement—I go so far as concluding that such a basis, whatever it is, must exist.



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Citations of this work

Democracy and Truth: A Contingent Defense of Epistemic Democracy.Gustavo Hessmann Dalaqua - 2017 - Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society 29 (1):49-71.
An Epistemic Justification for the Obligation to Vote.Julia Maskivker - 2016 - Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society 28 (2):224-247.

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References found in this work

A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
A Theory of Justice.John Rawls - 1971 - Oxford,: Harvard University Press. Edited by Steven M. Cahn.
Mortal questions.Thomas Nagel - 1979 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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