When we compromise on justice, we accept or acquiesce to an arrangement that we judge to be unjust, or at least not fully just. Such arrangements are often described as constituting a 'modus vivendi'. What reasons could we have to accept a modus vivendi, thereby compromising on justice? Given the fact of disagreement on justice, this is an important, but rather neglected question in political philosophy. One possible answer, inspired by John Rawls, is that compromising on justice is only justified if this nonetheless brings us as close to ideal justice as possible under given circumstances. The most straightforward way to take issue with this answer is to present other reasons to compromise on justice. The articles in this book explore epistemic reasons and those that stem from values besides justice, like democracy, peace, toleration and non-subjugation. This book thereby sheds some light on the relevance of compromising for the legitimacy of institutional arrangements.
This book was previously published as a special issue of the Critical Review of Social and Political Philosophy.
Fabian Wendt is Assistant Professor in Philosophy at the University of Hamburg. From August 2013 to July 2014 he will be a visiting scholar at the University of Arizona. His research concerns modus vivendi theories, public reason liberalism, libertarianism, and the concept of freedom.
1. Introduction: Compromising on justice Fabian Wendt
2. Political morality and constitutional settlements Steven Wall
3. Sustaining democracy: folk epistemology and social conflict Robert B. Talisse
4. Toleration out of respect? Sune Laegaard
5. On the possibility of principled moral compromise Daniel Weinstock
6. Consensus, compromise, justice and legitimacy Enzo Rossi
7. Peace beyond compromise Fabian Wendt