Enoch Against Public Reason

When philosopher Jason Brennan posted a “meme” suggesting that David Enoch had knocked out “public reason,” I figured I’d see what’s up. SSRN has the abstract and paper, “Against Public Reason.” The paper is officially published in the first volume of Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy. (Eric Mack also has an essay in there about rights, fyi.)

Brennan has his own critique of Rawls in his great intro to political philosophy.

Enoch is concerned particularly with versions of public reasoning that entail “some requirement to justify political principles to each of those subject to them as a necessary condition for legitimacy.” In this view, “all public-reason accounts must involve some idealization”—and that’s the problem. He writes, “I insist that the relevant reason for action is the content of the principle, not that we accept it.” I agree with that, but I think that some people use the term “public reason” to describe other sorts of theories that aren’t subject to Enoch’s critiques.


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