An Anti-Platonic Account of Moral Justification
In the last few decades liberal theories have been divided into two camps: those theories that support a morally strong foundation of liberalism and those theories that look for a moderate, often strictly political, account of the justification of liberalism. In this paper my aim is to analyse this debate from the perspective of moral epistemology, as I hold that a technical analysis of what it means to justify a belief will provide us with good reasons for supporting a moderate epistemic account of justification in political theory. A moderate perspective of justification stresses the role played by the agents instead of giving primacy to the value and the validity of moral truths per se. The relevant feature of the procedure of justification is its value as discriminatory procedure within the perspective of agents’ moral deliberation rather than its connection with a truth-conducive argument. The main achievement of this paper is to show that there are good epistemic reasons for sustaining a moderate account of justification in political theory. This statement is in contrast with the two mainstream attitudes in contemporary political philosophy. On the one hand, moderate approaches, following Rawls, call for a strictly political account of public justification that tries to be neutral with regard to epistemology theories as well. On the other hand, more foundational accounts of liberalism uphold a stronger epistemic requirement in order to justify a comprehensive version of liberalism. By contrast, my account highlights the fundamental role played by moral epistemology with regard to the public justification of the major tenets of political liberalism, although claiming this relevance within a paradigm that is anti-platonic and intrinsically political.