Date of Award

Fall 2007

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Starr, William

Second Advisor

Gibson, Kevin

Third Advisor

Goldin, Owen


This dissertation is concerned with the viability of the idea of liberal public reason. This idea belongs to the realm of contemporary political philosophy and is a term which seems to have few direct correlates in the history of philosophy, though it has a few namesakes and several analogues. "Public Reason'' may be contrasted obviously with "private reason"- a concept as dubious no doubt as that of the idea of a private language. But this contrast is not what is here meant. Here the concept of public reason may be thought of as an account of the moral practical reasoning appropriate to democratic citizenship in the public sphere. This account of the moral practical reason" particular to the role of government officials and of citizens is made through delimiting those moral concepts suitable for public deliberation and through the imposition of duties to reason from a "public" point of view rather than self interest. Naturally, this idea of public reason is analogous to many previous theories on the nature of right. Some of the more obvious examples are the use of the natural law by jurists of the Roman Republic such as Cicero, the idea of the "common good'' which is to be found in political theorists of the late medieval republics of Italy, or the use of natural rights language by the founders of the American Constitution...



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