17 October 2012

Justice.Freedom.Truth. .......... Scissors. Paper. Rock.

 Justice trumps Freedom. Freedom trumps Truth. Truth trumps Justice.

I am prompted to revisit the above hubristically concocted heuristic from the early days of this blog, by an interesting paper I stumbled across recently by John P. Anderson of the Mississippi College of Law, Trading Truth for Legitimacy in the Liberal State: Defending John Rawl's Pragmatism.

Anderson states:
"Philosophers have challenged the idea of justice without truth as incoherent; and social critics have attacked it as naive. This paper defends Rawl's pragmatism against such critics and argues that the future of liberal constitutionalism may depend on its success".

That's a pretty high burden to place on the success of a defence of pragmatism. If it's any assistance I am prepared to suggest that my heuristic might, if someone could only explain it half competently, partially lend support to Anderson's case. The case and the heuristic share many potential and actual threats and challenges from ardent absolutists, relativists and justice crusaders, but the end point, for the case and the heuristic, is the potential realisation of an opportunity to satisfactorily reconcile some apparently irreconcilable contradictions in liberal democracy. It requires the partial sacrifice of belief in the absolutism of truth by affording high status to freedom and with only some cost to the paramountcy of justice.

It's clear that many people don't share the high regard for freedom that some post-enlightenment liberals do, so we are going to have our work cut out for us making this case.

But now that Mr Anderson has advised that the future of constitutional liberalism may depend on the success of this case, I feel duty bound to knuckle down again soon and do my bit for the cause by making a better case for the efficacy, desirability and accuracy of the heuristic.

I'll start by letting Mr. Anderson make his case for Mr. Rawl's pragmatism in the above article. Read the whole thing. He seems so much better equipped for these polemics than I at present, but I will return to have another shot at this soon. 

In the meantime, here is my first attempt at this on this blog from over four years ago. I'll be back.

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