Public debates in our societies are marked by appeals to tradition, religion and even manipulative uses of ‘post-truth’. This book argues that the antidote to such tendencies can only be public reasoning. We can find the resources to build what I call the public perspective if we make two commitments: to respect people as free autonomous agents and to endorse a shared ethics of beliefs. An ethics of belief is a set of epistemic and moral rules that inform the beliefs that we bring to the public forum and make possible discussion and confrontation on a terrain that is adequately public. The epistemological aspects cannot be severed from the political commitments that motivate public justification in the first place. An ethics of belief shields us against two temptations: on the one hand, to abandon reason and claim that all sorts of beliefs and opinion should weigh into public reasoning; or, on the other, to appeal to objective reasons only, independently of whether people recognise them as such or not.
CH. 1 THE PUBLIC PERSPECTIVE: AN INTRODUCTION / CH.2 PUBLIC REASON AND AGREEMENT / CH.3 THE ETHICS OF BELIEF AND THE LIBERAL TRADITION / CH.4 HAVING REASONS AND GIVING REASONS / CH.5 FACING DISAGREEMENT / CH.6 EQUAL FREEDOM / CH. 7 LIBERAL MULTICULTURALISM / 8. CONCLUSIONS / ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS / BIBLIOGRAPHY
A clear argument showing why public justification is crucial for democratic and pluralistic society. Ferretti throws a novel light on this crucial issue by intersecting politics with ethics and epistemology, showing that democratic deliberation, if combined with equal respect for autonomous agents, requires a public perspective on reasons and a commitment of citizens to scrutinize their beliefs in the light of logic, knowledge and probability.
The debate on liberal public reason has become increasingly intricate and self-referential. In The Public Perspective, Maria Paola Ferretti investigates the under-examined issue of the normative epistemology of belief. Drawing on Locke’s epistemology, she advances a distinctive position on reasoned agreement, one which ought to take the public reason debate in a bold and promising new direction. On the structure of liberal theory more generally, Ferretti has innovative and interesting things to say.