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The Ethics of Reasoning from Conjecture *

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An important objection to political liberalism is that it provides no means by which to decide conflicts between public and non-public reasons. This article develops John Rawls’ idea of ‘reasoning from conjecture’ as one way to argue for a commitment to public reason. Reasoning from conjecture is a form of non-public justification that allows political liberals to reason from within the comprehensive views of at least some unreasonable citizens. After laying out the basic features of this form of non-public justification, this article responds to three objections based on concerns about insincerity, cultural imperialism, and the epistemic authority of those who reason from conjecture.

Affiliations: 1: University of Virginia School of Law, 580 Massie Road, Charlottesville, VA 22903, USA, mjs4d@virginia.edu

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