The Gauthier Enterprise*: JAMES M. BUCHANAN

Social Philosophy and Policy 5 (2):75-94 (1988)

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I take it as my assignment to criticize the Gauthier enterprise. At the outset, however, I should express my general agreement with David Gauthier's normative vision of a liberal social order, including the place that individual principles of morality hold in such an order. Whether the enterprise is, ultimately, judged to have succeeded or to have failed depends on the standards applied. Considered as a coherent grounding of such a social order in the rational choice behavior of persons, the enterprise fails. Considered as an extended argument implying that persons should adopt the moral stance embodied in the Gauthier structure, the enterprise is, I dunk, largely successful. Considered as a set of empirically falsifiable propositions suggesting that persons do, indeed, choose as the Gauthier precepts dictate, the enterprise offers Humean hope rather than Hobbesian despair.
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DOI 10.1017/S0265052500000078
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