Unity with(in) plurality: Rawls's idea of public justification reinterpreted
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This paper explores and interprets Rawls's idea of public justification by analysing the types of reasons that citizens use when engaged in public justification of a political conception of justice. In particular, I focus on the distinction between “consensual” and “distributive” modes of justification. Some critics have argued that Rawls is unclear whether he is relying on “consensual” or “distributive” forms of reasoning; others argue that Rawls shifts in -consistently between them. I attempt to clarify this puzzle. I show that consensual and distributive modes of public reasoning are not mutually exclusive to each other. On the contrary, they are introduced as necessary com ponents of public justification in Rawls's theory. Thus, his model is consensual-cum-distributive. I also suggest some reasons why this model can better account for the liberal idea of pluralism, and how it offers a more realistic moral and political psychology, giving the account greater epistemic virtue than its alternatives.