Trading Truth for Legitimacy in the Liberal State: Defending John Rawls's Pragmatism
John P. Anderson
Mississippi College School of Law
September 18, 2012
65 Studies in Law, Politics and Society 1-29 (2014)
Mississippi College School of Law Research Paper No. 2012-02
Post-Enlightenment liberalism faces a paradox: The liberal principle of legitimacy demands states justify their constitutional order in terms citizens can accept, but there is no uncontroversial comprehensive conception of justice on which to form the requisite consensus. Rawls resolves the paradox by embracing a pragmatism that abandons the concept of truth in the political forum to secure consensus and legitimacy. Philosophers have challenged the idea of justice without truth as incoherent, and social critics have attacked it as naïve. This paper defends Rawls’s pragmatism against such critics and argues that the future of liberal constitutionalism may depend on its success.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 45
Keywords: Political Liberalism, Liberalism, Pragmatism, Rawls, Rorty, Raz, Campos, Dewey, Wolterstorff, Legitimacy, Law, Constitutionalism, Pluralism, Religious Pluralism, Reasonable Pluralism, Public Reason, Law and ReligionAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: September 18, 2012 ; Last revised: January 26, 2015
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