Agreement, All the Way Up: An Essay on Public Reason and Theory Choice
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation offers novel contributions to two distinct but related projects, what I call the first-order public reason liberalism project and the second-order public reason liberalism project. The first-order project is concerned with those disagreements among competent moral agents and the conflicts they may induce: is there a way such disagreements can be adjudicated in a manner endorsable by all leading to social cooperation rather than conflict? The second-order project is concerned with those disagreements among public reason theorists: is there one articulation of the public reason project all theorists can come to agree on as best? After articulating the second-order public reason project this dissertation offers a novel contribution to the first-order public reason project by proposing that our disagreements are best adjudicated according to a polycentric model of governance; hopefully a novel polycentric way of organizing our social and political lives can garner the endorsement of all public reason theorists, thus resolving our second-order public reason project. After showing that this hypothesis cannot convincingly be vindicated, the dissertation offers reflections on the current state of the public reason liberalism research program, offering both an indictment of how it currently proceeds and a proposal for remedying such failures.
Degree ProgramGraduate College