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Public Reason

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An important feature of liberal societies is that the government makes an effort to justify its laws and actions to citizens. The United State’s Supreme Court provides an example of this practice. The Court rules on fundamental constitutional issues and justifies its decisions by issuing lengthy opinions. When issuing its decisions, some kinds of arguments are acceptable and others, such as theological arguments, are not. The Court justifies its decisions using only what we might call public reasons. Public reasons are the sort of considerations that are appropriate for government to take into account in making decisions in a democratic society because they are generally acceptable to all citizens. Rawls identifies the standards of public reason domestically with the ideals embedded in liberal democracy, primarily the values of freedom and equality. These considerations constrain the types of arguments that citizens should give when arguing about fundamental political issues, such as...

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References

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Paletta, D. (2011). Public Reason. In: Chatterjee, D.K. (eds) Encyclopedia of Global Justice. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9160-5_200

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