Skip to content

Rawls and subject 49

June 7, 2017

Naturally, the second reason for the change owes to the status of the reasons involved; they enjoy a rightness, or perhaps even correctness, which the reasons for mere stability did not in A Theory of Justice. Transposing Theory’s social union of social unions into Liberalism’s more modest “deepest and most reasonable base of social unity” (PL, p. 391), Rawls lays out the three marks of stability for the right reasons:

  1. The basic structure of society is effectively regulated by the most reasonable political conception of justice.
  2. This political conception of justice is endorsed by an overlapping consensus comprised of all the reasonable comprehensive doctrines in society and these are in an enduring majority with respect to those rejecting that conception.
  3. Public political discussions, when constitutional essentials and matters of basic justice are at stake, are always (or nearly always) reasonably decidable on the basis of the reasons specified by the most reasonable political conception of justice, or by a reasonable family of such conceptions (PL, p. 391).

Indeed, stability’s reasons have been transposed from the comprehensive doctrine of justice as fairness’s reasons to merely political reasons, as Rawls understands them. A.) reminds the reader that the political conception of justice is reasonable because it “tries to put no obstacles in the path of all reasonable doctrines endorsing a political conception by eliminating from this conception any idea which goes beyond the political” (PL, p. 389). B.) recalls that the political conception is “endorsed, or in some way supported by, all reasonable (or the reasonable) comprehensive doctrines in society” (PL, p. 391). Their combination shows in what way , when stability for the right reasons obtains, the political conception affords the “most reasonable base of social unity” (idem.).

As to its deepness, c.) elucidates in what way, with regards to constitutional essentials and matters of basic justice, the principles operative in political deliberation are those stemming from the political conception rather than comprehensive doctrines. In this domain, at least, the former enjoy a deepness unavailable to the latter. It also suggests a second sense of deepness in that “the fundamental ideas of the political conception are endorsed by the reasonable comprehensive doctrines, and these doctrines represent what citizens regard as their deepest convictions – religious, philosophical, and moral” (PL, p. 392). Upon the coincidence of these three conditions does stability for the right reasons follow.

With the final answer in place to our three questions on public justification, it is worth returning to the reasonable citizen standpoint to see how it compares to those which came before, notably, the representative party standpoint. Above, we stated that the reasonable citizen standpoint resembles the citizen standpoint in that both avoid issuing truth-claims as to the status of political conception and comprehensive doctrines. Yet it does not stand as a direct counterpart to the individual standpoint in the same way as the citizen. Whereas the person occupying the later deliberates in terms of public reason as opposed to the individual standpoint’s nonpublic reason, the person taking up the reasonable citizen standpoint does not proffer first-order reasons of either sort. Wherefore an additional dissymmetry in the three kinds of justification. Like the citizen standpoint, it remains free of truth-claims in the realm of the reasonable. Unlike the citizen standpoint and the individual standpoint, it can offer only second-order reasons, (indirectly) parasitic on those given from the individual standpoint.

In terms of its formulation, how does the reasonable citizen standpoint then compare with the representative party, citizen and individual standpoints? In other words, how is the person occupying each standpoint to consider herself relative to the kind of deliberation at issue?

Representative party: a depersonalized person in symmetrical relations with others autonomously proposing reasonable principles in publicly available modes

Citizen: a political person in free and equal relations with others autonomously proposing, in accordance with public reason, reasonable principles in publicly available modes for principles of political justice

Individual: a nonpolitical person in free and equal relations with others proposing, in accordance with nonpublic reason and within a given association, nonpublicly available reasons for principles of political justice

Reasonable citizen: a political person in free and equal relation with others taking account of, in accordance with the limits of public reason, the existence of a reasonable overlapping consensus of nonpublicly available reasons for principles of political justice

In keeping with our remarks as to the asymmetry of the three kinds of justification, we find the reasonable citizen standpoint to be continuous with each of the standpoints above, albeit on different aspects. As for the person occupying the citizen standpoint, we find a political person in free and equal relations with others proceeding in view of politically delimited reasons. In relation to the person taking up the individual standpoint, the reasonable citizen standpoint reprises its reference to nonpublicly available reasons. Moreover, all three bear on one and the same object, namely, the political conception, through related though conceptually distinct approaches: 1.) public and direct; 2.) nonpublic and direct; 3.) public and indirect.

Yet the reasonable citizen standpoint breaks with each of them in that it proposes no first-order reasons of its own belonging to either kind but contents itself with remarking the existence of first-order reasons for others. So does it describe a narrowly delimited intersubjective point of view. Furthermore, the reasonable citizen standpoint also demonstrates certain continuities with the representative party standpoint and the conception of person therein and this for two reasons. On one hand, this continuity follows from the latter’s outward development, through its linkage with public reason, into the standpoints relevant to each kind of justification. In this way, the traces of the representative party standpoint remain visible in each. On the other, certain restrictions impose themselves on the person occupying this reasonable citizen standpoint as to the kind of knowledge which she should have of the contingent formations informing persons qua individuals at the time of full justification. These informational constraints are not without recalling those imposed in the original position.

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: