Justice and Public Reason
Montaigne offers what is perhaps the first historical instance of the now-ubiquitous phrase “public reason.” Whereas contemporary use of this phrase refers to activities of moral reason-giving, Montaigne uses it to refer to the health of public institutions, conventions, and activities that allow parties in potential and actual conflict to negotiate civil peace and other public goods, whether through moral reasoning, strategic bargaining, or other forms of interaction. This chapter engages with two recent instances of Montaignian public reason in action: the local negotiation of “civil alliance” between Jews and Arabs in the lands of the Palestinian Mandate in 1947–1948 and the negotiation of conflict resolution during an armed standoff between the Canadian army and Mohawk warriors outside Montréal, Quebec in the summer of 1990.
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