Thursday, January 13, 2011

New book: The Order of Public Reason

The Order of Public Reason
A Theory of Freedom and Morality in a Diverse and Bounded World

by Gerald Gaus

(Cambridge University Press, January 2011)

598 pages


Gerald Gaus shows how we can achieve a moral and political order that treats all as free and equal moral persons. The first part of this work analyses 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.


1. The Fundamental Problem [pdf]

Part I. Social Order and Social Morality

2. The Failure of Instrumentalism
3. Social Morality as the Sphere of Rules
4. Emotion and Reason in Social Morality

Part II. Real Public Reason

5. The Justificatory Problem and the Deliberative Model
6. The Rights of the Moderns
7. Moral Equilibrium and Moral Freedom
8. The Moral and Political Orders

Gerald Gaus is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona. He is the author of "Contemporary Theories of Liberalism: Public Reason as a Post-Enlightenment Project" (Sage, 2003).

Follow the reading group on Gaus's book at the blog "Public Reason: A Blog for Political Philosophers".

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