Political Philosophy and Epistemology: The Case of Public Reason

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Public reason theorists in political philosophy—roughly, Rawlsians—often make what sure sound like epistemological statements. They talk about justifying principles to others, about the uncertainty with which we should hold our evaluative commitments, about reasonable persons and comprehensive doctrines, about a morally politically motivated higher epistemic standard, about intellectual modesty, and, of course, about the burdens of judgment. But they rarely explain, let alone defend, these seemingly epistemological commitments, nor do they engage contemporary epistemological literature. This paper exposes these commitments to epistemological scrutiny, arguing that at the end of the day they cannot be vindicated. It focuses on what, on such theories, a reasonable person who is nevertheless committed to a comprehensive doctrine believes, and on what epistemic standard may be politically relevant in this context.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationOxford Studies in Political Philosophy
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198801221
StatePublished - Jul 2017


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