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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 43, Issue 1, January 2017

Alice Baderin
Pages 1-28
DOI: 10.5840/soctheorpract20174311

Reflective Equilibrium
Individual or Public?

The paper explores whether the method of reflective equilibrium (RE) in ethics and political philosophy should be individual or public in character. I defend a modestly public conception of RE, in which public opinion is used specifically as a source of considered judgments about cases. Public opinion is superior to philosophical opinion in delivering judgments that are untainted by principled commitments. A case-based approach also mitigates the methodological problems that commonly confront efforts to integrate philosophy with the investigation of popular attitudes. This conception of RE is situated in relation to alternative accounts, including those of Daniels, Rawls, and Wolff and de-Shalit.

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