Why Inconclusiveness is a Problem for Public Reason
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Most theorists of public reason, including both its proponents and critics, now accept that it is inconclusive, meaning that its correct application can result in a plurality of reasonable solutions to the issues it addresses. While some early critics argued that the inconclusiveness of public reason presented a serious problem for political legitimacy – a charge often associated with ‘the completeness objection’ – defenders of public reason have generally dismissed this objection on the grounds that political legitimacy does not hinge on the selection of a singularly reasonable or most reasonable resolution to political disputes. We argue, however, that once the notion of political legitimacy accepted by prominent public reason theorists has been successfully disambiguated, the inconclusiveness of public reason is far more problematic than public reason theorists have acknowledged.