Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Non-shareable reasons in the public arena

There is a lot of discussion about whether it is permissible to use reasons based on controversial comprehensive doctrines, such as religious reasons, in the public arena. But at least such reasons can be formulated in terms most people understand.

A different sort of challenge seems to be posed by reasons that the agent is unable to share, reasons such as hunches, feelings, etc. Not infrequently, we just see, or at least think we see, that something is the right decision, but cannot say why. And while on the one hand such reasons cannot very satisfactorily enter into discussion, on the other hand without them our public knowledge of what we should do will be deeply impoverished, and our public deliberation will be biased in favor of the opinions of verbally skilled elites. And it seems plausible that it is more important to get to the truth than to have a satisfactory discussion.

Of course, one could say that the fact that one has a hunch that something is to be done is itself a shareable, discussable reason, and hence acceptable in the public sphere. But now, I think, the notion of what is a shareable, discussable reason becomes largely trivialized.


Andrew Dabrowski said...

But humans are adapted for making up reasons to justify their hunches - some cognitive scientists think that's what reason is primarily for

Alexander R Pruss said...

That seems to me to make the problem for the Rawlsians even harder.

Andrew Dabrowski said...

You lost me - I'm not a philosopher. What does Rawls have to do with your Post? Maybe just a keyword or two I could google.