Rereading Rawls in Arendtian light Reflective judgment and historical experience
Abstract: With Arendt's insight regarding the need of judgment in the background, this paper pursues the ways in which the need for theory, or political philosophy, articulates Rawls' overall approach in order to tell just from unjust institutions. It suggests that the Kantian mould of reflective judgment gives form to the construction of a theory of justice via the mechanism of reflective equilibrium. The need for theory so devised has to constantly move between the demands of theory itself - the social contract tradition as understood by Rawls - and the demands of action understood as the guide that our considered judgments lend to our understanding of the social world. Finally, it is also suggested that a particular grasp of the lessons of historical experience, as a way of fulfilling the need for theory that lies in the heart of the exercise of judgment, is what renders the Rawlsian proposal theoretically attractive, and what constantly underlies the construction of his theory via the particular exemplification and the theoretical rendering of the moral semantics underlying democratic culture.
Summary (1 min read)
2 The need for theory
- Not metaphysical, even there any effort to reach rational agreements will need to envisage abstract concepts and theories.
- Only an ideological or visionary stance, he continues, would fail to experience such conflicts.
And he adds:
- The authors turn to political philosophy when their shared political understandings, as Walzer might say, break down, and equally when they are torn within ourselves.
- It is important to note that Rawls is trying to articulate the need for theory at two different but confluent levels: a first level of the immediate political life and a second level regarding the type of theory or philosophy to which the authors appeal when dealing with conflict and disagreement.
- But, still further, the acknowledgment of this pluralist predicament determines the type of complex, rational justification that any doctrine aware of pluralism has to adopt.
- Theory, in this sense, not only illuminates the depth of disagreements and conflicts, nor helps only in acknowledging pluralism; it not only describes their predicament: it demands, or is thought to demand, some type of guide for actions in the way of principles, as I understood them before.
- The need for theory does, certainly, contain a free, detached, moment in which a very extensive realm of possible alternatives -be they in form of theories or of particular arguments and beliefs -can be envisaged.
3 Considered judgments and reflective equilibrium
- As fiduciary figures of their moral and rational powers, the parties in the original positions are, in a way, philosophical alter egos that mirror the real moral egos we, as citizens, are.
- But also, in adopting through them a hypothetical stance towards ourselves, towards their judgments and their convictions, the authors unfold their exercise in judgment: they both are there and here, they are both, so to say, spectators and actors in different and shifting positions.
- When the authors are able to view ourselves in this hypothetical light, they adopt a distanced stance towards ourselves as actors; and, as actors, they check the exact concerned distance their fiduciary spectators must take.
- This unfolding, reflective process incorporates the different moments of their faculty of judgment and shows that the appeal to theory is itself a moment of their practical exercise of this faculty.
4 From historical experience to theory and back again
- But in order to downplay any naïf optimism, the authors could continue asking how it is possible that even those settled basic facts continue to be so widely denied (as torture, death penalty, exploitation and discrimination show), even in democratic cultures.
- This question brings back Arendt's distress and makes her appeal to judgment absolutely relevant and contemporary.
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Cites result from "Rereading Rawls in Arendtian light ..."
...While I will focus on similarities between the method of reflective equilibrium in Rawls’ constructivism and the weak transcendental arguments of Jürgen Habermas’ method of rational reconstruction, Rawls’ approach may also be compared with that of Hannah Arendt.(9) Rawls and Habermas share a focus on a conception of political judgment that Arendt derives from Kant’s model of aesthetic judgment....
...While I will focus on similarities between the method of reflective equilibrium in Rawls’ constructivism and the weak transcendental arguments of Jürgen Habermas’ method of rational reconstruction, Rawls’ approach may also be compared with that of Hannah Arendt.9 Rawls and Habermas share a focus on a conception of political judgment that Arendt derives from Kant’s model of aesthetic judgment.10 Both are concerned, that is, not only with political judgment as subsuming particulars under universal principles, but also with a method of justification that seeks to make explicit the ideal principles that are implicit in particular judgments....
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Q1. What are the contributions mentioned in the paper "Rereading rawls in arendtian light: reflective judgment and historical experience" ?
Very early in her Philosophical Diary, Arendt wrote: `` If the authors leave aside the faculty of judgment, everything turns into vertigo '' this paper.