ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Being Reasonable Is Being Mutually Justifiable

The relationship between “reason” and “being reasonable,” is very delicate and complex. Reasonableness pervades many important fields such as law,  economy and philosophical and political practices. Since reason, as a notion, is an agreed upon touchstone in society, it is imperative that we separate the moral conception of what it means to “be reasonable” so that we are able to access reason without being buried under its weight. 
People cannot be reasonable to the regressive reason that seeks to rationalise the real impact,  for example, the “reason” that justifies caste, race and patriarchy.  So, it would be quite reasonable on the part of a person to deploy counter-reason in order to overrule the regressive reason that seeks to legitimise the precedent such as caste and patriarchal practices.  People are perfectly reasonable in terms of transgressing the bad precedent that is internal to caste, race and patriarchy. Reason will aid people to create a new precedent. The new precedent has to be based on the need to be reasonable to one. Being reasonable with people, just because they are not in a position to appreciate the importance of reason,  should not form into a permanent  “do not hurt the belief and sacred sentiments of common people.” This would lead to a romanticisation of people that would naturally amount to conceding too much ground to those who use predatory forms of reason to perpetuate their social dominance. 

In the language of the market, being reasonable is being proportionate to the utilitarian/diminishing value of the commodity. Being reasonable involves the ethical capacity of being aware of one’s purchasing capacity or capacity to hold on. Thus, a person with low purchasing capacity will find it reasonable to shop only in markets where second-hand articles are sold. As mentioned above, being reasonable is defined in terms of the capacity to maximise the constraints or internalising the constraints.  Similarly, a vendor without the facility to of cold storage would find it quite reasonable to sell off his perishable goods at low prices. Reasonableness is defined in terms of the mutual justifiability which, in turn, is based on the compatibility of values.  To put it differently, reasonableness would involve each according to his capacity of buying and each according to his structural capacity to hold on. Reason in such cases guides rationally guided reason to conduct oneself within the limits that would save them from embarrassment. Reasonableness thus eliminates the ground that would foment the sense of feeling annoyed or feeling hurt or a sense of being treated unfairly. As the experience of students from marginalised background informs us, the constraining principle of each according to their cognitive capacity. Thus students from such background tend to get their research supervisors who have expertise in the subject that the students can handle. It works out reasonably well with the teacher who does not like to face intellectual interaction with the students. Such students also find such allotment quite reasonable in "selecting" research topic that will offer them "soft landing" otherwise on the tough terrain of research. The allotment committee is quite reasonable to both the teacher as well as the student. Ultimately, reasonableness is all about mutual justifiability. Being reasonable to oneself is to refrain from internalising the negative image that is imposed on one.  Such people would not have any reason to morally subject oneself to the moral exploitation that necessarily involves diminishing oneself beyond the bare human recognition.  One has to recognise that one has the equal human value which one has not got in gift, but one has recovered it by deploying one’s rational faculty. Basing our reasonableness on the mutual justifiability is conservative and does not advance our cognitive power, and it ultimately leads to utilitarian trade-off.

The views expressed here are personal and do not reflect the collective view of the journal.


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