by Jerome C. Foss
The Heritage Foundation
August 14, 2014
The divide between John Rawls and the Founders has deep roots. Ultimately, they disagree on the purpose of government and its relationship to permanent standards. This dispute is further complicated by the fact that Rawls’s theory changes the rules of civic discourse. He claims for himself the mantle of reason, while his interlocutors can be labeled unreasonable if they refuse to limit their arguments to the terms of public reason. In other words, Rawls and his followers not only want something new, but also create a new language to justify it. From the point of view of Rawls’s theory, the Founders were unreasonable, and those who think the political thought of the Founding is right and worth defending are likewise deemed unreasonable, no matter how lucid their reasons for agreeing with the Founders.

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