The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 33, 1998

Philosophy of Law

Michael Anderheiden
Pages 1-6

Justification by Reflective Equilibrium in Rawls’s More Recent Work

Famously, John Rawls is regarded as using reflective equilibrium (RE) to justify his principles of justice. But the point of justification by RE in Rawls's more recent work is not easily established since he regards his own work as still contractarian. In order to clarify matters, I distinguish between wide and narrow RE, as well as show that wide RE consists of several kinds of narrow RE: RE as a plea for (re)consideration, RE as a constructive procedure of choice, and safe ground RE. The connection of these REs is shown in order to reach justification. The point of introducing RE for justification is seen in opening the range of possible revisions to allow for consensus. However, (the lack of) wide RE for itself is not enough to bring about revision. Rather, an additional causal link between two kinds of RE is proposed to be necessary.