How Global Can Global Public Reason Be? Thinking Through the Secular Problematics of Global Human Rights Discourse

30 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 2 Feb 2015

See all articles by Mark Redhead

Mark Redhead

California State University, Fullerton

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

Joshua Cohen has recently re-modelled Rawls account of public reason into an explicitly global enterprise designed to both engage and regulate human rights discourses. Global public reason is a workhorse of a concept. It not only comes from all peoples and applies to all their varied polities, it also accomplishes a number of tasks including serving as a basis for global justice in an ethically pluralist world by, among other things, providing a framework for legitimating conduct within and between different polities and serving as a common form of practical reason whose content –which conceptions of human rights are an indispensible element of - is potentially common to all. However it is unclear just how global or compelling, global public reason can be and hence how many possible rights discourses it can effectively and/or critically engage. This paper asks a related question of Cohen: Does Cohen’s account of global public reason implicitly invoke a larger secular sensibility despite his wishes not to do so? I will argue that it does but that this is not necessarily a fatal flaw. Turning to the recent works of Charles Taylor, Wendy Brown Seyla Benhabib and Pheng Cheah I will sketch out a secular sensibility that can advance a justificatory minimalist account of human rights in more robust manner than what Cohen offers.

Suggested Citation

Redhead, Mark, How Global Can Global Public Reason Be? Thinking Through the Secular Problematics of Global Human Rights Discourse (2011). APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1900476

Mark Redhead (Contact Author)

California State University, Fullerton ( email )

800 N State College St
Fullerton, CA 92831
United States

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