This essay explores and criticizes Matteo Bonotti’s argument that parties and partisans in a publicly justified polity should appeal primarily, if not exclusively, to accessible justificatory reasons to fulfill their political duties. I argue that political parties should only support coercive policies if they rationally believe that the coercive law or policy in question can be publicly justified to those subject to the law or policy in terms of their own private—specifically intelligible—reasons. I then explore four practical differences between our two approaches. In contrast to Bonotti’s accessible reasons approach, the intelligibility approach (1) facilitates the provision of assurance between citizens and political officials, (2) requires that parties and partisans support fewer coercive policies, (3) allows more exemptions from generally applicable laws, and (4) facilitates logrolling and alliance formation.
KeywordsPolitical liberalism Public reason Partisanship Democratic theory Partisanship
I am grateful to Matteo Bonotti for discussion of our two papers.
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