By articulating the pragmatics of justification in cases of conflicts among basic rights, this paper endeavors to solve the tension between the seeming political vacuity of abstract moral universalism and the seeming parochialism of theories sensitive to cultural context. This solution emerges within a discourse-theoretic model of political judgment - what I name “critical deliberative judgment”. Its parameters are elaborated first in a reconstitution of Critical Theory (as a tradition of social philosophy) that focuses attention on the emancipatory, rather than the conciliatory dimensions of judgment. The model is further elaborated by way of replacing the reliance on ideal theory of justice with a pragmatist political epistemology. The latter accounts for the way specific experiences of injustice affect publics' identification of what counts as relevant issues in debates over conflicting rights. Finally, the model is completed with an account of the critical and emancipatory work that democratic practices of open dialogue are able to perform, ultimately relating local sensitivities to universal demands of justice by disclosing the structural (rather that agent-specific or culture-specific) sources of social evil
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