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Author Den Otter, Ronald Clifford
Title Standing Rawls on his feet: Applied public reason, judgment, and the practice of democratic citizenship (John Rawls)
book jacket
Descript 350 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 64-06, Section: A, page: 2236
Chair: Brian Walker
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of California, Los Angeles, 2003
Democratic critics of judicial review have long claimed that judicial review is anti-democratic. Those who defend this institution against such charges usually respond that there are good reasons to allow unelected judges to render judgments concerning the most important questions of public morality. Rather than taking sides in this debate, I introduce a third alternative: that citizens themselves can play the role of judge in collective decision making, thereby making judicial review more democratic. I argue that if citizens could incorporate constitutional or public values into their voting decisions, then judicial oversight would not be necessary. In showing how this kind of public-minded voting is possible, I draw on John Rawls's conception of public reason found in his more recent writings. I discuss how the practice of such reason by citizens themselves could produce democratically legitimate and morally acceptable outcomes
I then show that for even for citizens with the best of intentions, Rawlsian public reason requires a supplementary account of civic judgment, that is, an explanation of how an ideal citizen would apply its norms to fundamental political questions. I address the specific concern that the Rawlsian project of public reason cannot be extended to real constitutional essentials and matters of basic justice because the civic judgments of reasonable citizens will not converge on the particulars. If the application of such norms were indeterminate, then appeals to public reason in real political controversies would be useless. Both sides could be convinced that they understood the implications of public reason for a particular case better than their opponents did and consequently, reach diametrically opposed, yet apparently equally justified, practical conclusions. Real cases are important because citizens are not only likely to demand justification for higher-level regulatory principles of political morality. They are also likely to ask for justification in specific applications of state power. If citizens can reasonably object to the way in which public reason has been applied on a regular basis, then the practice of public reason may not really support Rawls's political conception of justice after all
School code: 0031
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 64-06A
Subject Political Science, General
Alt Author University of California, Los Angeles
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