Law Beyond God and Kant: A Pragmatist Path

John P. Anderson

Mississippi College School of Law

June 23, 2014

Mississippi College School of Law Research Paper No. 2014-01

The liberal principle of reciprocity requires that states maintain neutrality with respect to their citizens’ competing comprehensive worldviews (both religious and secular) while officially justifying the law, and while adjudicating under it. But the very possibility of such liberal neutrality has come under attack in a post-Enlightenment world in which even foundational arguments for the principle of reciprocity itself are no longer taken for granted. This paper offers a pragmatist path to the resolution of this liberal dilemma. It recommends a “default and challenge” model for legal justification and legitimation that is rooted in social-linguistic practice. By rooting justification and legitimation in practice, it is argued liberal neutrality can be preserved without need for appeals to controversial foundational commitments at any level of public political justification. I use the example of abortion to show how politicians and courts can apply this method to preserve liberal neutrality while addressing even the most controversial issues.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 57

Keywords: Constitution, Constitutionalism, Pluralism, Pluralist, Pragmatism, Pragmatist, Rorty, Rawls, Perry, Greenawalt, Carter, Liberalism, Liberal, Public Reason, Multiculturalism, Religion, modus vivendi, James, Dewey, political, Democracy, Liberal, Hart, Abortion, Catholic, Catholicism, Neutrality, Right

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Date posted: December 4, 2013 ; Last revised: October 29, 2015

Suggested Citation

Anderson, John P., Law Beyond God and Kant: A Pragmatist Path (June 23, 2014). Mississippi College School of Law Research Paper No. 2014-01. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2362856 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2362856

Contact Information

John P. Anderson (Contact Author)
Mississippi College School of Law ( email )
151 East Griffith Street
Jackson, MS 39201
United States
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