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Exit, Voice, and Public Reason


Public reason liberals appeal to public deliberation to ensure that a legal order can be publicly justified to its citizens. I argue that this voice mechanism should be supplemented by exit mechanisms. By allowing citizens to exit legal orders they believe cannot be publicly justified, citizens can pressure states to change their laws. This exit pressure is sometimes more effective than deliberation. I explore federalism as an exit mechanism that can help public deliberation establish a publicly justified polity.

Corresponding author
Kevin Vallier is an Associate Professor of Philosophy, Bowling Green State University, Shatzel 310, Bowling Green, Ohio, 43403 (
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I am grateful to Christie Hartley, Brian Kogelmann, Andrew Lister, Ilya Somin, Robert Talisse, and for comments and conversations about this piece and the issues it addresses. I am also grateful to a reading group with my graduate students, especially for comments from Ryan Fischbeck, Ian Irwin, and Colin Manning. Several anonymous referees provided me with extensive, helpful comments.

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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
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