Theories of Public Reason

This panel seeks to bring together those working on issues related to theories of public reason and public justification, broadly understood. There has been a significant literature developing in recent years around political and public reason liberalism. Alongside John Rawls’s view, distinct viewpoints on the idea of a publicly justified polity have emerged through the work of Gerald Gaus, Andrew Lister, and others. Not only are these accounts interesting by their own lights, they also relate to important questions about the foundations of liberalism, the scope of political toleration, the status of religion and other comprehensive worldviews in liberal democracies, and debates between perfectionist and anti-perfectionist liberals. We would intend for this panel to have a broad remit within this area, and so would invite submissions on any of the following issues:

  • The nature, extent and significance of reasonable disagreement.
  • The foundations of public reason requirements.
  • The appropriate level of idealisation for public reason’s justificatory constituency.
  • Obligations on citizens: civility, sincerity, etc.
  • Consensus vs. convergence accounts of public justification.
  • The implications of public reason views for religious citizenship.
  • The status of perfectionist reasons in public reason accounts.
  • Issues relating to public reason and liberal neutrality.
  • Requirements of accessibility, shareability, and intelligibility on public reasons.
  • The application of public reason accounts to concrete issues.
  • The role of public reason requirements in broader accounts of deliberative democracy.
  • The relationship between public reason views and alternative accounts of liberal legitimacy.
  • The distributive and institutional implications of ideals of public reason.
  • Specific accounts of political or public reason liberalism, such as the views of John Rawls, Gerald Gaus, Jonathan Quong, Andrew Lister, Kevin Vallier, etc.
  • Objections to public reason theories.

We invite abstracts of around 500 words, prepared for blind review, to paul.billingham@chch.ox.ac.uk, by May 11th