The Ethics of Reasoning from Conjecture
Journal of Moral Philosophy, Forthcoming
20 Pages Posted: 24 Dec 2010 Last revised: 7 Feb 2011
Date Written: December 10, 2010
An important objection to political liberalism is that it provides no means by which to decide conflicts between public and non-public reasons. This article develops John Rawls’s idea of "reasoning from conjecture" as one way to argue for a commitment to public reason. Reasoning from conjecture is a form of nonpublic justification that allows political liberals to reason from within the comprehensive views of at least some unreasonable citizens. After laying out the basic features of this form of nonpublic justification, this article responds to three objections based on concerns about insincerity, cultural imperialism, and the epistemic authority of those who reason from conjecture.
Keywords: political liberalism, public reason, nonpublic reason, justification, Rawls
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