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Philosophy Today

Volume 64, Issue 3, Summer 2020

Special Topic: Vulnerability

Karim Barakat
Pages 709-726

Grounding Reasonableness in Rawls’s Reading of Hobbes

I argue in this paper that Rawls is unable to offer a ground for the normativity of his freestanding politics, where his account is susceptible to a number of criticisms he raises against Hobbes. Rawls identifies three problems in Hobbes’s political view: the absence of reasonableness, the lack of a social role for morality, and finally resorting to an absolute sovereign to maintain stability. I maintain that Rawls’s Kantian account circumvents these problems. However, I argue that his move to a freestanding politics that disposes of the Kantian moral basis is unable to justify normative commitments and ultimately resorts to contingent justifications resulting from uncritically accepting norms institutions inculcate.

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