9th Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Zoffoli

Enrico Zoffoli

Justificatory Sincerity Between Consensus and Convergence

My concern in this paper is a recent debate about the role of the principle of justificatory sincerity (PJS), according to which citizens committed to the ideal of public reason should not advance political proposals which they sincerely believe others could reasonably reject. On the one hand, G. Gaus argues that PJS permits citizens to converge on a given law for different non-shareable reasons. Call this a ‘convergence’ model of public reason. On the other hand, J. Quong contends that PJS requires citizens to eschew any appeal to non-shareable reasons. Call this a ‘consensus’ model of public reason. In this paper I argue that both views are problematic. While convergence is at odds with PJS, consensus can be made consistent with PJS only at the price of undermining the very ideal of public reason. My thesis is that justificatory liberals committed to PJS should rather endorse an alternative conception, which I dub ‘weak convergence’. This paper is organized as follows. Section (I) offers a preliminary overview of the issue. Section (II) defines PJS. Section (III) explains why convergence consorts ill with PJS. Section (IV) shows that, in principle, consensus and weak convergence are equally compatible with PJS. Sections (V) argues, though, that consensus models based on PJS risk defying the fundamental commitment to publicly justify. Section (VI) concludes that weak convergence is highly preferable to consensus.