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Liberalism without Perfection$
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Jonathan Quong

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199594870

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199594870.001.0001

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The Scope and Structure of Public Reason

The Scope and Structure of Public Reason

(p.256) 9 The Scope and Structure of Public Reason
Liberalism without Perfection

Jonathan Quong

Oxford University Press

This chapter defends two main claims about the scope and structure of public reason. First, the author defends the claim that public justification requires public reasons, that is, reasons which everyone can reasonably recognize as valid political considerations. The author thus rejects the view, advocated by some philosophers, that a law could be publicly justified to different citizens for different reasons that were not accepted as valid considerations by everyone. Second, the author argues, contra Rawls, that all our political decisions and deliberations should be governed by the idea of public reason. We should always want our political principles to be justifiable to others on terms those others can reasonably accept. We should not, as Rawls suggests, only apply this requirement to constitutional essentials and matters of basic justice.

Keywords:   consensus, constitutional essentials, convergence, Gaus, public justification, public reason, Rawls, sincerity

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