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Toward a More Honest Public Reason Liberalism

  • Author(s): Chang, Jason Michael
  • Advisor(s): Macnamara, Coleen
  • et al.
Abstract

Contemporary liberal philosophers have spent considerable time defending a public reason liberal politics in which citizens publicly deliberate about laws and policies but bracket their private moral, philosophical, and religious worldviews when doing so. Instead of their parochial worldviews, citizens in the public forum are to deliberate about laws and policies using public reason - principles, values, and inquiry guidelines that all citizens can accept as free and equal.

The current literature, however, makes oversimplifications in two areas, causing it to neglect serious obstacles facing a public reason liberal politics. First, the literature oversimplifies the idea of a worldview, causing it to underplay the epistemic obstacles that face citizens in setting aside their parochial worldviews in politics. Second, the literature oversimplifies the elements that go into arriving at a political solution, causing it to overlook the inability of public reason to arrive at and publicly justify answers to some political questions.

This dissertation avoids these oversimplifications and, subsequently, offers a refined version of a public reason liberal politics that addresses the obstacles that these oversimplifications originally masked. First, in light of a more detailed understanding of a worldview, a public reason liberal politics must work into its procedures formal segments in which participants exchange and attend to worldviews. Second, in light of a more detailed understanding of the elements that go into reasoning to a political solution, a public reason liberal politics must work into its theoretical structure a convergence conception of public justification that can inform deliberative processes capable of reaching publicly justified political outcomes when public reason is incomplete.

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