Justice and justification: The argument against Kantian subordination of politics to morality (The cases of John Rawls and Jurgen Habermas)

Thesis Type: Doctorate

Institution Of The Thesis: Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi, Graduate School of Social Sciences, Turkey

Approval Date: 2002


Supervisor: AHMET İNAM


By providing a clarification of the Kantian legacy on which both Rawls's and Habermas's justification of the principles of justice rests, the historical part of this dissertation aims to demonstrate the misdirection that Kant gave to the contemporary political philosophy. The conceptual part of the dissertation argues for the idea that, due to an internal connection between the justificatory methodology of a political theory and its essential ideas, a political system cannot be justified independently of its political and moral values.IV I argued that, unlike Rawls, Habermas's model of the idea of public justification is still too demanding with respect to the normative requirements of a political consensus. Although he realizes that the complexity of political issues and the fact of contemporary democratic societies make it necessary to employ a pluralist perspective in politics; it is evident from his critique of Rawls's idea of an overlapping consensus that a distributive reading of the public justification is not possible in a political consensus. My suggestion is that Habermas's tripartite distinction for ethical-political questions does not make sense insofar as he excludes the possibility of a distributive justification for the political conception of justice. I have also argued that a distributive mode of public justification has a limitation. By limiting the claims of diversity to conceptions of the good, a political conception of justice must emphasize a unity for the consensual agreement. In this regard, though Habermas truly captures the liberal idea of the unity of a consensual agreement on the procedural principles, his theory, unfortunately, is blind to the distinction that has been made by most liberals regarding the procedural and substantial principles of a political agreement.