Value Engaged – Justificatory Neutrality, Reasonable Consensus and the Value of Value-Beliefs
Justificatory neutrality, as held by Nagel, holds that the state is only legitimate if it can be justified on the basis of the value-beliefs that we all share. I argue that this theory has faults that are avoided by Rawls’s alternative of stability for the right reasons as achieved by a reasonable overlapping consensus on the political norms for regulating the basic structure of society. However, neither approach explains why we should be concerned with people’s value-beliefs, a gap which I begin to fill. I argue that justificatory neutrality is inadequate in two ways. Firstly, neutrality cannot serve as a guiding ideal, in that we must appeal to other values in order to determine when and how we should be neutral. Secondly, in excluding all controversial ideals, it has no guarantee that a) those values shared will be adequate for settling political questions, and/or b) that some of those values excluded aren’t significant to the people who believe in them in ways that prevent their accepting justifications that appeal solely to the shared values. I argue that Rawls’s theory avoids these problems but that his idea of public reason is both unnecessary and in tension with the aspiration to achieve an actual reasonable overlapping consensus. Drawing on Raz I argue that neither Nagel nor Rawls offer adequate explanations of why we should be concerned with justifiability to people on the basis of their value-beliefs. I provide such an explanation in terms of the value of being able to endorse the course of our own lives. This value grounds reasons to be responsive to people’s (possibly mistaken) value-beliefs in political justifications – though, since this is not the only value to be considered, sometimes other reasons may settle the matter.
Feltham, Brian (2008) Value Engaged – Justificatory Neutrality, Reasonable Consensus and the Value of Value-Beliefs. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.
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