Ideální konsenzus, reálná diverzita a výzva veřejného ospravedlnění: k limitům idealizace v liberální politické teorii [Ideal Consensus, Real Diversity, and the Challenge of Public Justification: On the Limits of Idealisation in Liberal Political Theory]

Acta Politologica 2 (13):49–70 (2021)
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The paper deals with the methodological clash between idealism and anti-idealism in political philosophy, and highlights its importance for public reason (PR) and public justification (PJ) theorising. Upon reviewing the broader context which harks back to Rawls’s notion of a realistic utopia, we focus on two major recent contributions to the debate in the work of David Estlund (the prototypical utopian) and Gerald Gaus (the cautious anti-utopian). While Estlund presents a powerful case on behalf of ideal theorising, claiming that motivational incapacity and other non-ideal features of “human nature” – the so-called bad facts – do not normally refute the desirability of highly utopian theories of justice, we show that Gaus is correct in stressing the importance of feasibility considerations, including empirical knowledge about human societies. Because moral disagreement is to be expected even among cognitively and morally excellent reasoners, we argue that Estlund’s search for Truth about justice must idealise away normative diversity as just another bad fact. This methodological dispute has important ramifications for current debates about PR and PJ as the grounds of liberal legitimacy. Because consensual approaches rely on strong idealisation which results in exclusion of numerous comprehensive doctrines from consideration, we conclude that convergence-based liberal political theory has distinct advantage as regards exploiting normative diversity to the advantage of everyone.

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