Public Reason

  • Dorothea BaurEmail author
Part of the Issues in Business Ethics book series (IBET, volume 36)


We need a conception of public reason that specifies what can be put forward by NGOs as political actors in the postnational constellation vis-à-vis corporations. A plea is made for a conception of public reason which promotes an unconstrained public dialogue. The background against which to assess public reason is the “fact of reasonable pluralism” (Rawls), i.e. the assumption that modern societies are characterized by the lack of a shared moral view on questions of the good life. It is argued that the liberal restrictions of the content of public reason have a number of implications which make it difficult for NGOs to adopt an emancipatory role as actors in the public sphere, and that liberalism in particular frees the interaction between NGOs and corporations from conforming to the requirements of public reason. Deliberative democracy agrees with feminist thinkers that public reason must be unrestricted since interests of actors must be discursively clarified even if they disagree. Any a priori restriction of what is acknowledged as part of public reason risks to oppress less powerful actors and to exclude them from public debate.


Fact of reasonable pluralism Oppression Feminism Unconstrained public dialogue Divided selves Conversational restraints 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of St. Gallen, Institute for Business EthicsSt. GallenSwitzerland

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