Self-restraint On Fundamentals

Kent Greenawalt

in Private Consciences and Public Reasons

Published in print August 1995 | ISBN: 9780195094190
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853021 | DOI:
Self-restraint On Fundamentals

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This chapter is dedicated to the study of John Rawls's principle of self-restraint by a distinction among political issues: citizens and legislators should limit themselves to common grounds in respect to some range of fundamental issues, but may employ religious and other comprehensive views in making ordinary political decisions. Rawls also introduced the concept of an overlapping consensus as to some issues, a concept challenged by the assertion that viable political philosophy must depend on at least a partial comprehensive view of human good, that it cannot be free-floating. The concept of public reason is also introduced in the chapter. Rawls talks of public reason as the reason of citizens sharing equal citizenship. Justifications in terms of public reasons “appeal only to presently accepted general beliefs and forms of reasoning found in common sense, and the methods and conclusions of science when these are not controversial.” One employing public reasons does not appeal to comprehensive religious and philosophical doctrines, but rather “a reasonable balance of public political values.”

Keywords: public reason; self-restraint; comprehensive view; John Rawls

Chapter.  7255 words. 

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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