Legitimacy, Democracy and Public Justification: Rawls’ Political Liberalism vs Gaus’ Justificatory Liberalism

Res Publica (2014) (Forthcoming)

28 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2013

Date Written: November 10, 2012

Abstract

Public justification-based accounts of liberal legitimacy rely on the idea that a polity’s basic structure should, in some sense, be acceptable to its citizens. In this paper I discuss the prospects of that approach through the lens of Gerald Gaus’ critique of John Rawls’ paradigmatic account of democratic public justification. I argue that Gaus does succeed in pointing out some significant problems for Rawls’ political liberalism; yet his alternative, justificatory liberalism, is not voluntaristic enough to satisfy the desiderata of a genuinely democratic theory of public justification. Moreover I contend that — pace Gaus — rather than simply amending political liberalism, the claims of justificatory liberalism cast serious doubts on the sustainability of the project of grounding liberal-democratic legitimacy through the idea of public justification.

Keywords: Rawls, Gaus, Public Justification, Public Reason, Legitimacy, Liberalism

Suggested Citation

Rossi, Enzo, Legitimacy, Democracy and Public Justification: Rawls’ Political Liberalism vs Gaus’ Justificatory Liberalism (November 10, 2012). Res Publica (2014) (Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2232789

Enzo Rossi (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Department of Political Science
Oudezijds Achterburgwal 237
Amsterdam, 1012 DL
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://uva.academia.edu/EnzoRossi

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