15th Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Moen

Lars Moen

Rawl’s discursive dilemma

This paper identifies problems with the majoritarian aggregation function and the social ontology of John Rawls’s political liberalism. Rawls is committed to a reductionist view of the social world that allows for a majority of individual members to control the attitudes of their group. Furthermore, Rawls expects collective entities to perform as reasonable and rational corporate persons. The discursive dilemma, however, shows that a collective entity, controlled by a majority of rational voters, cannot reliably function as a rational person. To respond to this social choice paradox, Rawls must alter his view of how corporate persons can operate, as well as his reductionist view of the social world.