James Gordon Finlayson’s book gives us a well-informed and detailed account of the exchange between Habermas and Rawls about questions of political justice and legitimacy. Finlayson discusses both the exchange which took place in the 1990s and the ensuing academic debate which continues today. He analyses both the exchange and the debate with lucidity and shows fair judgment when it comes to assessing arguments and counter-arguments. The book also contains helpful sketches of Habermas’s political discourse ethics in Between Facts and Norms and Rawls’s account of justice and legitimacy in Political Liberalism. Beginners and more advanced scholars will benefit from the clarity and determination with which Finlayson sorts out ubiquitous misunderstandings, especially concerning the Original Position — the much-discussed centerpiece of Rawls’s conception of justice as fairness — and the idea of an overlapping consensus in Rawls’s political liberalism.
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