Legitimacy of Law in a Liberal State: The Contours of Public Reason

26 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2014

See all articles by Wojciech Sadurski

Wojciech Sadurski

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: January 28, 2014


In contemporary liberal philosophy, the idea of Public Reason is intimately tied up with the liberal principle of legitimacy which postulates that only those laws that are based upon arguments and reasons to which no members of the society have a rational reason to object can boast political legitimacy, and as such can be applied coercively even to those who actually disagree with them. In this working paper I suggest the ways of fine-tuning the idea of Public Reason in such a way as to make it more immune to its critics. In particular, I explain what specifically it means for Public Reason to be an exclusionary, second-order rule about the exclusion of reasons which can figure in justifications for law (Part 1), how we can plausibly claim that Public Reason may be thought to be a feasible political imperative in pluralistic societies (Part 2), what should be its scope of application, both in terms of the types of laws to which it applies and the actors who should be bound by it (Part 3), and what specifically is at stake if we see the status of Public Reason as a legitimacy-conferring device (Part 4).

Keywords: Liberalism, public reason, legitimacy, John Rawls, Joseph Raz

JEL Classification: K10, K30

Suggested Citation

Sadurski, Wojciech, Legitimacy of Law in a Liberal State: The Contours of Public Reason (January 28, 2014). Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 14/08. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2387140 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2387140

Wojciech Sadurski (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics