Thanks very much to Lori to an extensive summary of Chapter 5 and probing comments. I hope that my replies continue to advance the discussion. I think there are some things I could clear up about the role of idealization in Rawls and my own work, some interesting issues surrounding judicial reasoning (that I talk about in much more detail in Chapter 6) and the role of reasonableness in my account of public justification.
I. Idealization – Rawls and Me
Lori’s first worry is that I shouldn’t construe Rawls as a radical idealization theorist, at least not in his later work. I grant that by Political Liberalism, Rawls is open to multiple ways of formulating a theory of justice, or a conception of justice, but I wasn’t aware he was open to multiple models of idealization. I thought the idea was that all reasonable political conceptions have an original position, but select different principles, but I didn’t think varying the degree of idealization was part of that. But then again, Rawls doesn’t say.
But in any event, I used Rawls’s original position model in Chapter 5 to illustrate the role radical idealization tends to play in public justification views, and Rawls commits himself to a rather radical form of it in formulating his own “most reasonable” conception of justice, so I think it is a good illustration of a tendency in the literature.
Lori also worries that my moderate conception of idealization may give too much weight to individuals’ present ends and projects. She suggests, for instance, that some citizens may place a lot of weight on pursuing justice which may conflict with their conception of the good, such that idealizing them could involve them revising their conception of the good.
I can definitely acknowledge that some citizens may have as their end the realization of a certain sort of justice as part of their identity and that, if so, their integrity might require off-setting their conception of the good in favor of their conception of justice. So I don’t want to imply that any reasonable citizen cannot set aside her good for what justice requires. My point is rather that in idealization, we should work extra hard to not represent the reasons of persons as conflicting with their deepest commitments, and that involves a kind of bottom-up moderate idealization.
II. Convergence and Judicial Reasoning
Lori next worries that it is hard to see how convergence makes sense of judicial reasoning, as such reasoning seems to require some shared reasoning constraint. I acknowledge that judges often need to appeal to shared reasons, and in fact I think a consensus requirement applies to their decision-making. I argue as much in Chapter 6. This is because the reasoning the judges use is the public basis for future law, so the reasons must be ones that everyone will acknowledge as having some force. But this is not the case with legislators: their reasoning is not the public basis for future law in any direct way.
But this does not undermine the convergence view, I don’t think. Convergence allows for all the reasons consensus view does; it just allows for more. So there’s no need to deplete the fund of shared reasons in adopting a convergence view. The question is whether allowing diverse reasons does any harm. And I think it doesn’t. In fact, it’s a help. But I do acknowledges that judges are an interesting exception.
Given that Lori focuses on judges as her illustration, I decided to as well. I don’t think non-judge examples will turn out to buttress Lori’s point.
Lori’s last concern is about how I understand reasonableness. It looks like I think citizens’ conception of reasonableness is purely instrumental towards realizing their ends. I think I understand why the chapter could be read that way, but I like to think that I’ve argued that citizens care about fair terms of cooperation both in order to advance their ends and to comport with their sense of justice. So my idealized citizens do have, in an important sense, two moral powers, two dispositions from which individuals can act. I also don’t think each person’s conception of the good always wins, but rather that the total balance of all their practical reasons – drawn from their conception of the good and their conception of justice – is sufficient to defeat a law, something consensus theorists deny (because citizens’ diverse reasons cannot defeat a law).