Trading Truth for Legitimacy in the Liberal State: Defending John Rawls's Pragmatism

65 Studies in Law, Politics and Society 1-29 (2014)

Mississippi College School of Law Research Paper No. 2012-02

45 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2012 Last revised: 26 Jan 2015

John P. Anderson

Mississippi College School of Law

Date Written: September 18, 2012

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Political Liberalism, Liberalism, Pragmatism, Rawls, Rorty, Raz, Campos, Dewey, Wolterstorff, Legitimacy, Law, Constitutionalism, Pluralism, Religious Pluralism, Reasonable Pluralism, Public Reason, Law and Religion

Suggested Citation

Anderson, John P., Trading Truth for Legitimacy in the Liberal State: Defending John Rawls's Pragmatism (September 18, 2012). 65 Studies in Law, Politics and Society 1-29 (2014) ; Mississippi College School of Law Research Paper No. 2012-02. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2148663

John P. Anderson (Contact Author)

Mississippi College School of Law ( email )

151 East Griffith Street
Jackson, MS 39201
United States

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