The Politics of Justice and the Paradox of Justification

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Pluralism, (normative) uncertainty, and disagreement are all widely held to constitute major obstacles for gaining assent to policy choices, especially when they concern legitimation-sensitive issues and hence are in particular need of a sound justification. Plausible as it appears to be, in the present article I argue that this belief may reflect only half of the truth, because the very forces that are held responsible for the erosion of consent often also seem to serve as justificatory resources, opening the door for a wide range of policy options that it would not be possible to “sell” if it were always unambiguously clear what ought to be done. Some empirical examples are discussed to illustrate how this paradoxical logic of justification works in practice.

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