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A Pluralist Critique of Contractarian Proceduralism

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In pluralistic societies with conflicting conceptions of the good, purely procedural justice looms as particularly attractive. Moreover, the social contract device, in at least some of its conceptual adaptations, appears capable of yielding purely procedural outcomes. Based on an assessment of the respective contractarian arguments of Hobbes and Rawls, the author asserts that contractarian proceduralism is either purely procedural but not just, or else just but only derivatively procedural. Finally, after proposing that Habermas' discourse ethics and proceduralist paradigm of law can be regarded as the perfection and culmination of contractarianism, the author concludes that it also ultimately fails to produce purely procedural justice.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, 55 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003, USA.

Publication date: December 1, 1998


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