What We Have Reason to Value: Human Capabilities and Public Reason

In Hon-Lam Li & Michael Campbell (eds.), Public Reason and Bioethics: Three Perspectives. Springer Verlag. pp. 337-357 (2021)
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This chapter sets forth an interpretation of public reason that appeals to our central capabilities as human beings. I argue that appealing to central human capabilities and to the related idea of respect for threshold capabilities is the best way to understand public reason. My defense of this position advances stepwise: first, I consider a central alternative to a capability account, which regards public reason as a matter of contracting; next, I describe central concerns with contract views and show how a capability view can avoid them; lastly, I consider extending public reason beyond national borders and test the two views in this context.

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Nancy Jecker
University of Washington


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