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Deontological tradition Contractualism of John Rawls Discourse ethics.

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Presentation on theme: "Deontological tradition Contractualism of John Rawls Discourse ethics."— Presentation transcript:

1 Deontological tradition Contractualism of John Rawls Discourse ethics

2 Part one John Rawls and (Contractual) Theory of Justice

3 Rawls and social contract Original postition: A fair and impartial point of view that is to be adopted in our reasoning about fundamental principles of justice. In taking up this point of view, we are to imagine ourselves in the position of free and equal persons who jointly agree upon and commit themselves to principles of social and political justice. “The veil of ignorance”: To insure impartiality of judgment, the parties are deprived of all knowledge of their personal characteristics and social and historical circumstances.

4 The veil of ignorance Parties do not know: – The race, ethnicity, gender, age, income, wealth, natural endowments, comprehensive doctrine, etc. of any of the citizens in society, or to which generation in the history of the society these citizens belong. – The political system of the society, its class structure, economic system, or level of economic development. Parties do know: – That citizens in the society have different comprehensive doctrines and plans of life; that all citizens have interests in more primary goods. – That the society is under conditions of moderate scarcity: there is enough to go around, but not enough for everyone to get what they want; – General facts about human social life; facts of common sense; general conclusions of science (including economics and psychology) that are uncontroversial.

5 Principles of justice according to Rawls Each citizen is guaranteed a fully adequate scheme of basic liberties, which is compatible with the same scheme of liberties for all others; Social and economic inequalities must satisfy two conditions: – to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged (the difference principle); – attached to positions and offices open to all.

6 Rawls’ underpinnings Procedural version of Kantian moral philosophy? Characteristics of citizen (human being)

7 Part two Ethics of discourse

8 Discourse ethics How to achieve a rationally justified agreement (consensus) with 'a power of argument, not an argument of power' In public sphere: how the factual coercion may be normatively justified

9 Kantian origins Kant's question about the notion of duty free from empirical inclinations, which is binding owing to the force of a pure reason Discourse ethics: conditions of possibility for agree upon such duties are embedded within rules of linguistic communication. Kant's categorical imperative is transformed into rules of rational discourse

10 Main representatives Jürgen Habermas Karl-Otto Apel Robert Alexy

11 Apel and ideal communicative community Moral foundations of each and every argumentative act: recognition of communicative community to which I belong. Doing this, I recognize a moral duty based upon normative relationships between myself and others.

12 Habermas and communicative action Each communicative action by its very nature poses some normative claims: to truthfulness, to sincerity, to fairness, to understandability This nature of communicative action forms ground for communicative rationality, as distinct from instrumental rationality

13 Habermas and two principles Principle of universalisation: All affected can accept the consequences and the side effects that [the norm's] general observance can be anticipated to have for the satisfaction of everyone's interests, and the consequences are preferred to those of known alternative possibilities for regulation Principle of discourse ethics: Only those norms can claim to be valid that meet (or could meet) with the approval of all affected in their capacity as participants in a practical discourse.

14 Alexy and rules of rational discourse Preconditions for the possibility of argumentation: 1. No speaker may contradict herself. 2. Every speaker may only assert what she actually believes (as true/right). 3. Every speaker has to use words (predicates) with consistence (to similar objects)‏ 4. Different speaker may not use the same expression with different meaning

15 Alexy and rules of rational discourse The principle of rationality: Every speaker must give reasons for what he or she asserts when asked to do so, unless he or she can cite reasons which justify a refusal to provide a justification. Consequences: - Everyone who can speak may take part in discourse - Everyone may freely make his or her contribution to the discourse - No speaker may be prevented from exercising the rights laid down in the two preceding by any kind of coercion internal or external to the discourse. Principles of burden of proof

16 Application 1. Public vs. private reason (Public standards vs. private beliefs) Citizens engaged in certain political activities have a duty of civility to be able to justify their decisions on fundamental political issues by reference only to public values and public standards. [Rawls, after: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

17 Application 2 Distributive justice: do we deserve what we possess?

18 Practical application Habermas: Rules of discourse ethics as rules of democracy Deliberative democracy Apel: Discourse ethics as ethics of responsibility for the factual communicative community I belong to. Alexy: Legal argumentation as a rational discourse

19 Critiques 1. The notion of ideal community informs us little about real ones 2. Communicative community as a community of reach, well-educated western people - veiling factual inequalities in power - 'coercion of consensus' 3. Participants of communicative community find no real motivation to search for consensus

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