Autonomy here and now

Cavell's criticisms of Rawls

Nadav Arviv

The paper links Cavell's early criticism of Rawls's “Two Concepts of Rules” to the later criticism of TJ. In his early paper, Rawls enacts a certain type of foundationalist response to the practical skeptic, commonly referred to nowadays as the constitutive move. While sympathetic to the move itself, Cavell's criticism targets a conception of the nature of moral discussion that arises when the move is as it were read into ordinary moral encounters. Cavell's later criticism rehearses the structure of its precursor. In TJ, the conversation of justice takes the shape of seeking legitimacy, aiming at a level where the limits of our responsibility are predetermined and clearly marked. But this shape stifles the possibility of the kind of conversation whose point is to assess, here and now, what our identification with our society amounts to and what the significance of the choices we make as members of this society exactly is. Having the structure of the earlier criticism in view furthers the understanding of Emersonian Moral Perfectionism, and sheds light on some of its enigmatic features, such as the relevance of Kant's notion of reflective judgment to moral thinking and the essentiality of the friend to perfectionist assent.

Publication details

DOI: 10.4000/ejpap.915

Full citation:

Arviv, N. (2010). Autonomy here and now: Cavell's criticisms of Rawls. European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy 2 (2), pp. n/a.

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