The secret history of public reason: Hobbes to Rawls

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My claim in this paper is that what I shall call the problem of public reason became central to the political theory of the early modern period, and continues to be in ours. However the solutions we have, for the most part, inherited and developed since then are increasingly under pressure in these fractious times. Public justification may be crucial to liberal political theory, but it can take alternative and conflicting forms. Moreover, however much it is theoretically unlimited -- however much ‘reasons for us’ are always contestable and defeasible -- it is always at the same time historically patterned and thus limited.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of York.

Publication date: January 1, 1997

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