Principled Compromise in Theorizing about Justice Open Access

Schweitzer, Katharine Jane (2014)

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Moral disagreement is a challenge to the common project of constructing shared terms of social and political cooperation. I recommend compromise as a strategy for resolving disagreements about the political principles that we wish to guide our pluralist constitutional democracy. Many philosophers in the liberal political tradition, most notably John Rawls, have failed to consider compromise as a response to controversies that we cannot adjudicate conclusively through the use of reason. The dominant view is that making concessions is a morally deficient strategy for reaching agreement on the meaning and the requirements of justice. Philosophers wrongly overlook the moral dimensions of compromise and the transformation of political claims that can occur when partners in deliberation make concessions as a matter of principle.

In Chapter One, I offer an account of principled compromise and distinguish it from strategies of conflict resolution that are not motivated by moral reasons. In Chapter Two, I identify the values that motivate people to pursue principled compromise and the values that they come to appreciate through constructing the compromise. In Chapter Three, I critically examine the claim that deliberation and negotiation are distinct ways of making joint decisions and that deliberation is a normatively superior form of political interaction. In Chapter Four, through an analysis of Betty Friedan's efforts to intervene productively in the debate over the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, I reconstruct the moral character of compromise in disagreements about principles of justice. Friedan encouraged feminists and anti-feminists to set aside their desire to impose their partisan views on fellow citizens and to modify their competing conceptions of justice. In Chapter Five, I defend the claim that it is desirable that citizens of pluralist democracies accept for moral reasons their constitutional order. This commitment informs my argument that we should strive to reach mutually acceptable agreements on the terms of our shared political life. In Chapter Six, I distinguish compromise and toleration and contend that compromise and not toleration is a strategy through which to reach agreement on principles of justice among people who disagree deeply.

Table of Contents

Introduction. 1

Chapter One: Moving Beyond Modus Vivendi 20

Rawls's Account of Overlapping Consensus. 23

Rawls's Account of Modus Vivendi 27

Rawls's Argument against Modus Vivendi 30

Principled Compromise. 33

Moving Beyond Modus Vivendi 34

Conclusion. 40

Chapter Two: Constitutional Consensus and Principled Compromise. 42

The Idea of a Constitutional Consensus. 43

Motivating a Constitutional Consensus. 48

Motivating Principled Compromise. 52

Cooperation and Transformation. 55

Conclusion. 59

Chapter Three: Deliberation, Negotiation, and Reasonable Disagreement 62

Deliberative Liberalism.. 64

Laden's Account of Deliberation and Negotiation. 68

Negotiation about Matters that Admit Reasonable Disagreement 72

Conclusion. 78

Chapter Four: Locating Principled Compromise in the ERA Ratification Debate. 80

The Last Phase of the ERA Ratification Campaign. 85

Frame Transformation as a Strategy of Persuasion. 90

The Second Stage and Principled Compromise. 98

Resistance to the Second Stage. 103

Conclusion. 105

Chapter Five: Shared Responsibility for Public Justification. 108

May's Arguments against Principled Compromise. 112

An Alternative Interpretation of Rawls's Collective Sphere of Responsibility. 117

Choosing an Account of Democratic Community. 121

Conclusion. 131

Chapter Six: Compromise, Toleration, and Justice. 133

Defining Compromise and Toleration. 135

Distinguishing Compromise and Toleration. 143

Compromise, Toleration, and Constructing Principles of Justice. 148

Conclusion. 152

Conclusion. 155

Bibliography. 160

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