Anno LII, n. 220, settembre-dicembre 2017
In this article I analyze and confront the paradigms of democratic legitimacy envisaged by Jürgen Habermas and John Rawls. Famously, these two authors had a fruitful thematic exchange in The Journal of Philosophy in 1995. I specifically interpret this exchange as a competition over modesty, as both the authors critique the other one for defending a model of legitimacy that is too demanding according to their perspective. I begin my analysis exposing Habermas approach to democratic legitimacy, highlighting the intrinsically procedural account of democracy that Habermas defends. Then, I proceed articulating the main charges that Habermas poses to the rawlsian model. In the second part of the article I then discuss Rawls’ rebuts to Habermas critiques and I cast a light on some clarificatory remarks provided by Rawls that can help in better outlining the justificatory framework that supports his political liberalism project. I conclude the review of this extremely relevant exchange highlighting the similarities between these two models of legitimacy, rather than insisting over the differences.