In his provocative new book, The Tyranny of the Ideal, Gerald Gaus lays out a vision for how we should theorize about justice in a diverse society. Gaus shows how free and equal people, faced with intractable struggles and irreconcilable conflicts, might share a common moral life shaped by a just framework. He argues that if we are to take diversity seriously and if moral inquiry is sincere about shaping the world, then the pursuit of idealized and perfect theories of (...) justice--essentially, the entire production of theories of justice that has dominated political philosophy for the past forty years--needs to change. Drawing on recent work in social science and philosophy, Gaus points to an important paradox: only those in a heterogeneous society--with its various religious, moral, and political perspectives--have a reasonable hope of understanding what an ideally just society would be like. However, due to its very nature, this world could never be collectively devoted to any single ideal. Gaus defends the moral constitution of this pluralistic, open society, where the very clash and disagreement of ideals spurs all to better understand what their personal ideals of justice happen to be. Presenting an original framework for how we should think about morality, The Tyranny of the Ideal rigorously analyzes a theory of ideal justice more suitable for contemporary times. (shrink)
In this innovative and important work, Gerald Gaus advances a revised and more realistic account of public reason liberalism, showing how, in the midst of fundamental disagreement about values and moral beliefs, we can achieve a moral and political order that treats all as free and equal moral persons. The first part of this work analyzes social morality as a system of authoritative moral rules. Drawing on an earlier generation of moral philosophers such as Kurt Baier and Peter Strawson as (...) well as current work in the social sciences, Gaus argues that our social morality is an evolved social fact, which is the necessary foundation of a mutually beneficial social order. The second part considers how this system of social moral authority can be justified to all moral persons. Drawing on the tools of game theory, social choice theory, experimental psychology and evolutionary theory, Gaus shows how a free society can secure a moral equilibrium that is endorsed by all, and how a just state respects, and develops, such an equilibrium. (shrink)
This book advances a theory of personal, public and political justification. Drawing on current work in epistemology and cognitive psychology, the work develops a theory of personally justified belief. Building on this account, it advances an account of public justification that is more normative and less "populist" than that of "political liberals." Following the social contract theories of Hobbes, Locke and Kant, the work then argues that citizens have conclusive reason to appoint an umpire to resolve disputes arising from inconclusive (...) public justifications. The rule of law, liberal democracy and limited judicial review are defended as elements of a publicly justified umpiring procedure. (shrink)
Preface -- Prolegomenon : Hayek's three unsettling theses -- Beyond human nature -- Beyond moral justification -- Beyond human governance -- Three enquiries on the open society -- The rise of a normative species -- A natural history of moral order -- The "starting point" -- The egalitarian revolution -- Self-interest, reciprocity and altruism -- Internalized, enforced, social rules -- The other side of morality -- Cultural evolution -- Part I : the rise and fall of inequality -- A complex (...) moral species -- The diversity and self-organized complexity -- Liberalism and the open society -- Understanding diversity -- Autocatalytic diversity -- Diversity and complexity -- Too much complexity? -- The morality of self-organization -- The social contract -- A self-organization model -- Moral diversity In the open society -- Part II: the complexities of self-governance -- Self-governance -- Macro control -- Macro structure -- Strategic dilemmas and polycentricity -- Meso-level goal pursuit -- Sectoral policy -- Self-governance from the bottom-up : simplifying the problems of governance -- Our moral nature and governance in the open society -- Liberal democracy -- Epilogue -- Appendix A -- Appendix B. (shrink)
Our concern in this essay are the roles of religious conviction in what we call a “publicly justified polity” — one in which the laws conform to the Principle of Public Justification, according to which (in a sense that will become clearer) each citizen must have conclusive reason to accept each law as binding. According to “justificatory liberalism,”1 this public justification requirement follows from the core liberal commitment of respect for the freedom and equality of all citizens.2 To respect each (...) as free and equal requires that no one simply be forced to submit to the judgments of others as to what she must do. Laws must be justified to those subject to them — each must accept grounds that justify the law. As Kant indicated, if such a condition is achieved, each is both subject and legislator: each is subject to the law, yet each legislates the law, and so all our free and equal under the law.3 Now it would appear that if we are to justify laws to each and every person, the reasons for these laws must be “accessible to all.”4 Religious reasons, however, are not shared by everyone, and may be inaccessible to some: they would thereby seem inappropriate in public justification. On the face of it, justificatory liberals seem committed to expunging religious-based reasoning from political justification. Not surprisingly, this apparent commitment of justificatory liberalism is adamantly rejected by many citizens of faith who consider themselves liberals. These citizens embrace the traditional liberal freedoms and rights and, moreover, reject any suggestion that a legitimate polity might seek to establish a religion, much less a theocracy. Yet they.. (shrink)
This important new book takes as its points of departure two questions: What is the nature of valuing? and What morality can be justified in a society that deeply disagrees on what is truly valuable? In Part One, the author develops a theory of value that attempts to reconcile reason with passions. Part Two explores how this theory of value grounds our commitment to moral action. The author argues that rational moral action can neither be seen as a way of (...) simply maximising one's own values, nor derived from reason independent of one's values. Rather, our commitment to the moral point of view is presupposed by our value systems. The book concludes with a defense of liberal political morality. (shrink)
This accessible, college-level introduction to the major theories of public morality begins with a discussion of why we should seek a publicly justified public morality and how we might go about publicly justifying social principles. The latter part of the volume considers the basic principles of public morality, evaluating the concepts of J.S. Mill, Jeremy Bentham, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, David Hume, John Rawls, David Gauthier, and Joel Feinberg, as well as contemporary philosophers. Theories addressed include game theory, social choice (...) theory, and the ideas of rational action, rational bargaining, and public good. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR. (shrink)
A. Two conceptions of moral legitimacy Socialism, understood as the rejection of markets based on private property in favor of comprehensive centralized economic planning, is no longer a serious political option. If the core of capitalism is the organization of the economy primarily through market competition based on private property, then capitalism has certainly defeated socialism. Markets have been accepted—and central planning abandoned—throughout most of the “third world” and the formerly Communist states. In the advanced industrial states of the West, (...) Labor and “democratic socialist” parties have rejected socialism, having deregulated markets and privatized industries, utilities, and transport. The United Kingdom Labour Party’s 1945 manifesto declared it to be a “Socialist Party, and proud of it. Its ultimate aim is the establishment of the Socialist Commonwealth of Great Britain.”1 Today it insists that markets are a given. (shrink)
Under free institutions the exercise of human reason leads to a plurality of reasonable, yet irreconcilable doctrines. Rawls's political liberalism is intended as a response to this fundamental feature of modern democratic life. Justifying coercive political power by appeal to any one (or sample) of these doctrines is, Rawls believes, oppressive and illiberal. If we are to achieve unity without oppression, he tells us, we must all affirm a public political conception that is supported by these diverse reasonable doctrines. The (...) first part of this essay argues that the free use of human reason leads to reasonable pluralism over most of what we call the political. Rawls's notion of the political does not avoid the problem of state oppression under conditions of reasonable pluralism. The second part tries to show how justificatory liberalism provides (1) a conception of the political that takes seriously the fact that the free use of human reason leads us to sharply disagree in the domain of the political while (2) articulating a conception of the political according to which the coercive intervention of the state must be justified by public reasons. (shrink)
William Perm summarized the Magna Carta thus: “First, It asserts Englishmen to be free; that's Liberty. Secondly, they that have free-holds, that's Property.” Since at least the seventeenth century, liberals have not only understood liberty and property to be fundamental, but to be somehow intimately related or interwoven. Here, however, consensus ends; liberals present an array of competing accounts of the relation between liberty and property. Many, for instance, defend an essentially instrumental view, typically seeing private property as justified because (...) it is necessary to maintain or protect other, more basic, liberty rights. Important to our constitutional tradition has been the idea that “[t]he right to property is the guardian of every other right, and to deprive a people of this, is in fact to deprive them of their liberty.” Along similar lines, it has been argued that only an economic system based on private property disperses power and resources, ensuring that private people in civil society have the resources to oppose the state and give effect to basic liberties. Alternatively, it is sometimes claimed that only those with property develop the independent characters that are necessary to preserve a regime of liberty. But not only have liberals insisted that, property is a means of preserving liberty, they have often conceived of it as an embodiment of liberty, or as a type of liberty, or indeed as identical to liberty. This latter view is popular among contemporary libertarians or classical liberals. Jan Narveson, for instance, bluntly asserts that “Liberty is Property,” while John Gray insists that “[t]he connection between property and the basic liberties is constitutive and not just instrumental.”. (shrink)
Philosophy, Politics, and Economics offers a complete introduction to the fundamental tools and concepts of analysis that PPE students need to study social and political issues. This fully updated and expanded edition examines the core methodologies of rational choice, strategic analysis, norms, and collective choice that serve as the bedrocks of political philosophy and the social sciences. The textbook is ideal for advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and nonspecialists looking to familiarize themselves with PPE's approaches.
In this essay I sketch a philosophical argument for classical liberalism based on the requirements of public reason. I argue that we can develop a philosophical liberalism that, unlike so much recent philosophy, takes existing social facts and mores seriously while, at the same time, retaining the critical edge characteristic of the liberal tradition. I argue that once we develop such an account, we are led toward a vindication of “old” (qua classical) liberal morality—what Benjamin Constant called the “liberties of (...) the moderns.” A core thesis of the paper is that a regime of individual rights is crucial to the project of public justification because it disperses moral authority to individuals thus mitigating what I call the “burdens of justification.” Footnotesa Earlier versions of this essay were presented at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Philosophy Department workshop on the morality of capitalism, and at the conference on rights theory at the Murphy Institute, Tulane University. I am grateful for the comments of the participants; my special thanks to David Schmidtz, Julian Lamont, and Andrea Houchard for their useful written comments and suggestions. (shrink)
Liberal political theory is all too familiar with the divide between classical and welfare-state liberals. Classical liberals, as we all know, insist on the importance of small government, negative liberty, and private property. Welfare-state liberals, on the other hand, although they too stress civil rights, tend to be sympathetic to “positive liberty,” are for a much more expansive government, and are often ambivalent about private property. Although I do not go so far as to entirely deny the usefulness of this (...) familiar distinction, I think in many ways it is misleading. In an important sense, most free-market liberals are also “welfare-state” liberals. I say this because the overwhelming number of liberals, of both the pro-market and the pro-government variety, entertain a welfarist conception of political economy. On this dominant welfarist view, the ultimate justification of the politico-economic order is that it promotes human welfare. Traditional “welfare-state liberals” such as Robert E. Goodin manifestly adopt this welfarist conception. But it is certainly not only interventionists such as Goodin who insist that advancing welfare is the overriding goal of normative political economy. J. R. McCulloch, one of the great nineteenth-century laissez-faire political economists, was adamant that “freedom is not, as some appear to think, the end of government: the advancement of public prosperity and happiness is its end.” To be sure, McCulloch would have disagreed with Goodin about the optimal welfare-maximizing economic policy: the welfarist ideal, he and his fellow classical political economists believed, would best be advanced by provision of a legal and institutional framework — most importantly, the laws of property, contract, and the criminal code — that allows individuals to pursue their own interests in the market and, by so doing, promote public welfare. In general, what might be called the “classical-liberal welfare state” claims to advance welfare by providing the framework for individuals to seek wealth for themselves, while welfarists such as Goodin insist that a market order is seriously flawed as a mechanism for advancing human welfare and, in addition, that government has the competency to “correct market failures” in the provision of welfare. (shrink)
This essay analyses optimal voting rules for one form of deliberative democracy. Drawing on public choice analysis, it is argued that the voting rule that best institutionalises deliberative democracy is a type of a supermajority rule. Deliberative democracy is also committed to the standard neutrality condition according to which if x votes are enough to select alternative A, x votes must be enough to select not-A. Taken together, these imply that deliberative democracy will often be indeterminate. This result shows that (...) deliberative democracy is ill-equipped to provide guidance as to how actual political disputes are to be legitimately resolved. (shrink)
David lyons has recently argued that mill's ethics is an alternative to both act and rule utilitarianism. In the first part of this paper I argue that lyons makes mill out to be far too much of a rule utilitarian. The second part of the article then provides an account of mill's theory of moral rules based on an analysis of the four functions rules serve in his ethics. On this reading mill's theory is a hybrid of act and rule (...) utilitarianism: violation of a moral rule is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for wrongdoing. (shrink)
Rex Martin has written the most important analysis and justification of political authority and obligation since T. H. Green’s Lectures on the Principles of Political Obligation [hereafter LPO]. Indeed, defying a good deal of contemporary philosophical orthodoxy, Martin resurrects some fundamental claims of Green’s political philosophy.
The essays that make up this volume, explore the idea of public reason. The task of identifying a distinctively public reason has become pressing in our deeply pluralistic society, just because doubt has arisen whether what is good reasoning for one must be good reasoning for all. Examining the theories of Hobbes and Kant, and also using more recent work such as the comments and theories of John Rawls and David Gauthier, this book explores aspects of the idea of public (...) reason. It explains public reason, and discusses areas such as pluralism, reasonable disagreement, moral conflict, political legitimacy, public justification and post-modernism. (shrink)
First published in 1983. The primary argument of this book is that there is a coherent tradition of liberal thinking that extends from L. S. Mill, through liberals like T. H. Green, Bernard Bosanquet, L. T. Hobhouse and John Dewey to John Rawls. The author places Rawls within a longstanding tradition of liberal thinking, while also arguing that Green and Hobhouse are not simply of historical interest but represent genuine and interesting attempts to develop a modern liberal theory. It is (...) argued that modern liberal theory centres on a conception of human nature; that modern liberals have sought to harmonise the pursuit of individuality with participation in social and communal life. Although the book focuses on six modern liberals, the discussion proceeds topically rather than according to author, thus highlighting similarities and disagreements and providing a comprehensive study of modern liberalism. (shrink)
The Routledge Companion to Social and Political Philosophy is a comprehensive, definitive reference work, providing an up-to-date survey of the field, charting its history and key figures and movements, and addressing enduring questions as ...
Gerald Gaus was one of the leading liberal theorists of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. He developed a pioneering defence of the liberal order based on its unique capacity to handle diversity and disagreement, and he presses the liberal tradition towards a principled openness to pluralism and diversity. This book brings together Gaus's most seminal and creative essays in a single volume for the first time. It also covers a broad span of his career, including essays published shortly (...) before his death, and topics including reasonable pluralism, moral rights, public reason, and the redistributive state. The volume makes accessible the work of one of the most important recent liberal theorists. Many readers will find it of value, especially those in political philosophy, political science, and economics. (shrink)
The Routledge Companion to Social and Political Philosophy is a comprehensive, definitive reference work, providing an up-to-date survey of the field, charting its history and key figures and movements, and addressing enduring questions as well as contemporary research. Features unique to the Companion are: an extensive coverage of the history of social and political thought, including separate chapters on the development of political thought in the Islamic world, India, and China as well in modern Germany, France, and Britain a focus (...) on the core concepts and the normative foundations of social and political theory a seven-chapter section devoted exclusively to distributive justice, the central issue of political philosophy since Rawls' Theory of Justice extensive coverage of global justice and international issues, which recently have emerged as vital topics an eight-chapter section on issues in social and political philosophy. The Companion is divided into eight thematic sections: The History of Social and Political Theory; Political Theories and Ideologies; Normative Foundations; The National State and Beyond; Distributive Justice; Political Concepts; Concepts and Methods in Social Philosophy; Issues in Social and Political Philosophy. Comprised of sixty-nine newly commissioned essays by leading scholars from throughout the world, The Routledge Companion to Social and Political Philosophy is the most comprehensive and authoritative resource in social and political philosophy for students and scholars. (shrink)
When people of good faith and sound mind disagree deeply about moral, religious, and other philosophical matters, how can we justify political institutions to all of them? The idea of public reason—of a shared public standard, despite disagreement—arose in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the work of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Kant. At a time when John Rawls’ influential theory of public reason has come under fire but its core idea remains attractive to many, it is important not to (...) lose sight of earlier philosophers’ answers to the problem of private conflict through public reason. The distinctive selections from the great social contract theorists in this volume emphasize the pervasive theme of intractable disagreement and the need for public justification. New essays by leading scholars then put the historical work in context and provide a focus of debate and discussion. They also explore how the search for public reason has informed a wider body of modern political theory¾ in the work of Hume, Hegel, Bentham, and Mill—sometimes in surprising ways. The idea of public reason is revealed as an overarching theme in modern political philosophy—one very much needed today. (shrink)
In this essay I dispute the widely held view that utility theory and decision theory are formalizations of instrumental rationality. I show that the decision theoretic framework has no deep problems accommodating the ?reasonable? qua a preference to engage in fair cooperation as such. All evaluative criteria relevant to choice can be built into a von Neumann?Morgenstern utility function. I focus on the claim that, while rational choice?driven agents are caught in the Pareto?inferior outcome, reasonable agents could ?solve? the PD (...) and cooperate. Not so, I argue. If reasonable people find themselves in PD situations they too would follow the dominant ?defect? strategy. The difference between instrumentally rational agents and those who are also reasonable is not that they would behave differently in Prisoner?s Dilemmas, but that reasonable people are more successful at avoiding the Prisoner?s Dilemma and tend to play more cooperative games. (shrink)