Diversity and rights: a social choice-theoretic analysis of the possibility of public reason

Hun Chung*, Brian Kogelmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Public reason liberalism takes as its starting point the deep and irreconcilable diversity we find characterizing liberal societies. This deep and irreconcilable diversity creates problems for social order. One method for adjudicating these conflicts is through the use of rights. This paper is about the ability of such rights to adjudicate disputes when perspectival disagreements—or disagreements over how to categorize objects in the world—obtain. We present both formal possibility and impossibility results for rights structures under varying degrees of perspectival diversity. We show that though perspectival diversity appears to be a troubling problem for the prospect of stable social order, if rights are defined properly then disagreements can likely be resolved in a consistent manner, achieving social cooperation rather than conflict.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)839-865
Number of pages27
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Feb 1


  • Diversity
  • Liberalism
  • Public reason
  • Rights
  • Social choice theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Social Sciences(all)


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