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ABSTRACT. In his Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy Rawls tells us that “a normalization of interests attributed to the parties” is “common to social contract doctrines.” In the first part of this paper I argue that this “normalization contract” faces a dilemma. If the normalization theorist insists on strict normalization, he can get agreement about how to promote the common good, but we will almost certainly be stuck at poor articulations of it; once the normalization theorist allows diversity, he is unable to contain it to “just the right amount” – the very diversity that he needs to escape being caught in poor local optima undermines the strong normalization thesis. In the second part of this paper I sketch two mechanisms by which free and equal persons can come to endorse a general will even when they do not agree what is best: political procedures and social equilibrium. pp. 70–95

Keywords: general will, perspectives, diversity, social contract, public reason, common good

GERALD GAUS
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University of Arizona

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