selected published papers


"On Dissing Public Reason: A Reply to Enoch." Ethics, July 2015.

"Public Reason Liberalism." In The Cambridge Companion to Liberalism, edited by Steve Wall a. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015: 112-40.

"Private and Public Conscience (Or, Is the Sanctity of Conscience a Liberal Commitment or an Anarchical Fallacy?)" In Reason, Value, and Respect, edited by Mark Timmons and Robert Johnson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015: 135-56

"The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Three Agent-Type Challenges to The Order Of Public Reason." Philosophical Studies, vol. 170 (2014): 563-577.

"On Theorizing About Public Reason." European Journal of Analytic Philosophy, vol. 9 (2013): 64-85.

"Evolution, Evaluation, and Reform: A Hayekean Analysis" in Hayek and the Modern Economy, edited by David Levy & Sandra Peart. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013: 59-88.

"Hobbesian Contractarianism, Orthodox and Revisionist." In The Continuum Companion to Hobbes edited by S.A. Lloyd. New York: Bloomsbury, 2013: 263-278.

"On the Appropriate Mode of Justifying a Public Moral Constitution." In The Harvard Review of Philosophy," vol. 19 (2013): 4-22.

"The Turn to a Political Liberalism." In The Blackwell Companion to Rawls, edited by David Reidy and Jon Mandle. New York, Wiley-Blackwell, 2014: 235-50.

"On Being Inside Social Morality and Seeing It". Criminal Law and Philosophy, Vol. 7 (April 2013): DOI 10.1007/s11572-013-9219-8.

"Why the Conventionalist Needs the Social Contract (and Vice Versa)." RMM (Rationality, Morality, and Markets), vol. 4, 2013: 71-87.

"Social Evolution" (with John Thrasher). In The Routledge Companion to Social and Political Philosophy, edited by Gerald Gaus and Fred D'Agostino. New York: Taylor Francis, 2013: 643-55.

"Sectarianism Without Perfection? Quong's Political Liberalism." Philosophy and Public Issues, vol. 2, No. 2 (Fall 2012): pp. 7-15.

"Constructivist and Ecological Modeling of Group Rationality." Episteme. vol. 9 (September 2012): 245-54.

"Social Contract and Social Choice." Rutgers' Law Journal ,vol. 43 (Spring/Summer 2012): 243-76.

"Property." In the Oxford Handbook of Political Philosophy, edited by David Estlund. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012: 93-112.

"Hobbes's Challenge to Public Reason Liberalism," In Hobbes Today, edited by S.A. Lloyd. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013: 155-177.

"Explanation, Justification, and Emergent Properties: An Essay on Nozickean Metatheory." In The Cambridge Companion to Nozick's 'Anarchy, State, and Utopia', edited by Ralf M. Bader and John Meadowcroft. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011: 116-44.

"Between Discovery and Choice: The General Will in a Diverse Society" Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice, vol. 3 (2011): pp. 70-95

"Egoism, Altruism, and Our Cooperative Social Order" In Morality: The Why and What of It, edited by James Sterba. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2012: 145-62.

"Ideology, Political Philosophy, and the Interpretive Enterprise: A View from the Other Side." In Liberalism as Ideology: Essays for Michael Freeden, edited by Ben Jackson and Marc Stears. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012: 178-98.

"On Seeking the Truth (whatever that is) Through Democracy: Estlund's Case for the Qualified Epistemic Claim." Ethics, vol. 121 (January 2011): 270-300.

"A Tale of Two Sets: Public Reason in Equilibrium." Public Affairs Quarterly , vol. 25 (October 2011): 305-325.

"Justification, Choice, and Promise: Three Devices of the Consent Tradition in a Diverse Society." Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy,vol. 15 (March 2012): 109-127.

"Retributive Justice and Social Cooperation." In Retributivism: Essays on Theory and Practice, edited by Mark D. White. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 201:73-90.

"The Property Equilibrium in a Free Society", Social Philosophy and Policy.vol. 28 (Summer 2011): 74-101.

"Recognized Rights as Devices of PublicReason," Philosophical Perspectives: Ethics, vol. 23 (2009): 111-36

"The Demands of Impartiality and the Evolution of Morality." In Partiality and Impartiality, edited by Brian Feltham and John Cottingham. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

"The Moral Foundations of Liberal Neutrality." In Debates in Contemporary Political Philosophy, Thomas Christiano and John Christman, eds., Oxford: Blackwell, 2009: 81-98.

"The Idea and Ideal of Capitalism." In The Oxford Handbook of Business Ethics, edited by George G. Brenkert and Tom L. Beauchamp. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009): 73-99.

"The Place of Religious Belief in Public Reason Liberalism." In Multiculturalism and Moral Conflict, edited by Maria Dimovia-Cookson and P.M.R. Stirk. London: Routledge, 2009: 19-37.

"Is the Public Incompetent? Compared to Whom? About What?," Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society, vol. 20 (2009): 291-311.

(with Kevin Vallier) "The Roles of Religious Conviction in a Publicly Justified Polity: The Implications of Convergence, Asymmetry and Political Institutions." Philosophy & Social Criticism, vol. 35 (January 2009): pp. 51-76.

"Controversial Values and State Neutrality in On Liberty. In Mill's On Liberty: A Critical Guide, edited by C.L. Ten. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008: 83-104.

"The (Severe) Limits of Deliberative Democracy as the Basis for Political Choice." Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory, no. 117 (2008): 26-53.

"Reasonable Utility Functions and Playing the Cooperative Way." Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, vol. 11 (June 2008): 215-234

"Social Complexity and Evolved Moral Principles.: In Liberalism, Conservatism, And Hayek's Idea Of Spontaneous Order, Peter McNamara, ed. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007: 149-76

"The Evolution of Society and Mind: Hayek's System of Ideas." In Ed Feser, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Hayek. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006: 232-258.

"On Justifying the Liberties of the Moderns: A Case of Old Wine in New Bottles." Social Philosophy & Policy, vol. 25 (1), 2007.

"The Rights Recognition Thesis: Defending and Extending Green" in Maria Dimovia-Cookson and Wlliam Mander, eds., T.H. Green: Metaphysics, Ethics and Political Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

"The Place of Autonomy in Liberalism." In Autonomy and the Challenges to Liberalism, John Christman and Joel Anderson, eds., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005: 272-306.

"The Diversity of Comprehensive Liberalisms." In Handbook of Political Theory, Gaus and Kukathas, eds., op. cit., pp. 100-114.

"Liberal Neutrality: A Radical and Compelling Principle" In Perfectionism and Neutrality, George Klosko and Steven Wall, eds. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003: 137-165.

"Taking the Bad with the Good: Misplaced Worries about Legal Retribution." In Enrique Villanveua, ed., Legal and Political Philosophy. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2002: 339-362.

"What is Deontology? Part One: Orthodox Views." Journal of Value Inquiry, vol. 35 (2001): 27-42.

"What is Deontology? Part Two: Reasons for Action." Journal of Value Inquiry, vol. 35 (2001): 179-193.

I received my BA from SUNY/Buffalo and my MA and Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. In the early '80s I was a Research Fellow in Philosophy Department in the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University, where I worked closely with Stanley Benn. (Stanley's great book, A Theory of Freedom, is one of the most underappreciated books in recent political philosophy: there is more good philosophy in one of Stanley's chapters than most books in recent political philosophy.) From 1997-2002, together with Fred D'Agostino and Peter Forrest, I was co-editor of The Australasian Journal of Philosophy (Oxford UP). I was a founding co-editor of Politics, Philosophy & Economics (Sage).

My main area of work is on public reason and diversity. The Order of Public Reason analyzed the moral framework that supports relations of responsibility. Such a framework, I argue, is one that respects all as free and equal moral persons, and this in turn requires that our social morality be publicly justified — however, the project of identifying such a morality is, I believe, clearly indeterminate. Drawing on ideas in game theory and social evolution, I try to show how a publicly justified social morality is still possible in the face of this indeterminacy.

The core of my recent writing has been the idea of a "public morality" that provides a common framework in which people pursue diverse ideals. This morality has both empirical and normative dimensions. It is empirical as it depends on a network of actual beliefs, intentions and behaviors. To be normative it must cohere with the deep, and diverse, normative commitments of the members of the public. I have built on the work of an earlier generation of social philosophers — such as Kurt Baier, P.F. Strawson, and F.A. Hayek, — who stressed how a diverse society requires a common, shared, moral, framework in which individuals can cooperate while pursuing conflicting ideals. Those interested in this project have much more to learn from the work of philosophers such as Cristina Bicchieri and Peter Vanderschraaf, and game theorists such as Herbert Gintis, than most of what goes under the rubric of "political philosophy."

The idea of a diverse, open, society is the core of my most recent book, The Tyranny of the Ideal (Princeton University Press, 2016). I try to show that societies that disagree about justice are apt to outperform — from the perspective of justice itself — societies that have come to agree on what is the correct conception of justice and are thus "well-ordered." Thus, that real human societies are characterized by deep disagreements as to the best conception of justice is not a mere fact to be accommodated by a nonideal "theory of the second best," but our main engine of moral improvement though, at the same time, our diversity of perspectives on justice means that it is most doubtful that we will ever reach rational consensus on the optimum principles of justice. A political philosophy devoted to the pursuit of what we now consider ideal justice, and which seeks a "well-ordered society" based on this shared ideal, almost certainly will condemn us to a society based on an inferior view of justice. Political philosophy, I argue, has too long labored under the sway of theorists' pictures of an ideally just society; we ought instead to investigate the characteristics of societies that encourage increasingly just arrangements.

I am currently working on a project on the evolution of complex moral orders. Here I develop a Hayekian-inspired account of social moralities as self-organizing complex adaptive systems. Even those philosophers who take moral diversity seriously generally have adopted a top-down, "moral planning" approach, in the guise of "social contracts," to help us understand what the justified moral rules of a diverse society would look like. This project develops the idea that diverse moral agents can themselves select the rules that regulate their moral lives. The task of a social philosopher is to understand the nature of justified moral orders, not to design them.

I strongly encourage my doctoral students to develop a good knowledge of game theory, social choice theory, modeling and economics (including experimental economics). I also entreat them not to build systems of social and political philosophy on "intuitions" that strike them as clear, which large numbers of good-willed, competent agents, cannot accept.

email: jerrygaus@gmail.com

FALL 2015

PHIL 437: Moral and Social Evolution

Tu 6:30PM - 9:00PM; Social Sciences, Rm 224

After a short introductory section, the course will focus on five books, which we will read in their entirety. Yes, that's right: read whole books. So beware! We'll begin with a focus on the relation of humans and primate cooperative behavior in Frans de Waal's The Bonobo and the Atheist. We then turn to more on human groups and the evolution of their cooperation in Christopher Boehm's Moral Origins: The Evolution of Virtue, Altruism, and Shame, which presents a comprehensive account of the evolution of human morality. Next, we'll consider morality and neuroscience in Joshua Green's Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Them and Us. Then, staying with the ambit of moral psychology but with more stress on political issues, we read Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. Finally we look at a work that focuses on cultural evolution and politics, F. A. Hayek's The Fatal Conceit.

PPEL 310: Analytic Tools in Philosophy, Politics & Economics

Tu Th 3:30PM - 4:45PM: Engineering, Rm 304


The aim is to introduce students to the ways in which economic analysis has been applied to issues in social and political philosophy. It is neither a course in economics nor in the philosophy of economics, but concerns the ways in which tools from economics have been applied to the problems of social and political theory.

The course is divided into four parts:

(1) Rationality and utility. We shall consider the relations between instrumental rationality, Homo Economicus and formal utility theory, including different conceptions of the notion of a preference and utility functions. These ideas are the foundations of the course. We will also examine whether moral agents can be modeled in terms of utility theory.

(2) Efficiency. We shall examine the concept of efficiency, and how it can be understood as a demand of parametric rationality. The ideas of public goods and externalities will be examined.

(2) Games. We consider strategic rationality in the forms of games of chicken, the prisoner's dilemma and cooperative games. We will examine games in both their strategic and extensive forms. Applications of game theory to public goods problems (including those that concern moral and social order) will be a main focus. Nash equilibria and subgame perfection are among the concepts discussed. We examine some iterated and evolutionary game theory.

(4) Social Choice and Democracy. Democracy can be understood as a way a society makes a collective choice. We examine in this part both the formal aspects of social choice and their applications to democracy. We look at the ideas of an Arrovian social welfare function and a collective choice rule. May's theorem and Arrow's theorem are the focus, though we shall consider more general questions concerning strategic voting and path dependency of political decisions. Arguments as to whether Arrow's theorem is relevant to understanding real world democracy will be another important focus.


PPEL 320: Classics in Political Economy

This is a course in the history of economic thought. We will look at, among others, Adam Smith, J.S. Mill, Karl Marx and F.A. Hayek. The course considers why the field of political economy, combining social philosophy, politics, and economic analysis, flourished for most of the nineteenth century, but broke into separate fields at the end of the century, and the consequences of this rupture. This course is open only to junior PPEL majors with Advanced Standing.

Phil 596F: Public Reason and Its Critics

Steve Wall and I will be teaching this seminar together. We'll consider not only Rawls's political liberalism, but more recent (and, in my opinion) some superior accounts of public reason. And we'll consider the critics of public reason -- such as Steve.

selected forthcoming papers

"The Commonwealth of Bees: On the Impossibility of Justice-through-ethos." Social Philosophy and Policy, 2017.

(with Shaun Nichols)"Moral Learning in the Open Society: The Theory and Practice of Natural Liberty," Social Philosophy and Policy, 2017.

(with John Thrasher), "Rational Choice in the Original Position." in The Original Position, edited by Timothy Hinton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.

(with Piper Bringhurst), "Positive Freedom and the General Will." in The Oxford Handbook of Freedom, edited by David Schmidtz. Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming.

(with Keith Hankins) "Searching for the Ideal: The Fundamental Diversity Dilemma." in Political Utopias: Contemporary Debates, edited by Michael Weber and Kevin Vallier. Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming.

(with Chad Van Schoelandt ), "Political and Distributive Justice." in The Oxford Handbook of Distributive Justice, edited by Serena Olsaretti. Oxford: Oxfored University Press, forthcoming.

"Scaling Up the Technology of Norm Change: Problems of Justification." in Norms in the Wild. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.

"Mill's Normative Political Economy." The Blackwell Companion to Mill, edited by Christopher Macleod and Dale Miller. New York: Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming

(with Chad Van Schoelandt) "Public Reason." In International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, second edn. Oxford: Elsevier Scientific Publishers, forthcoming .

"The Egalitarian Species." Social Philosophy and Policy," forthcoming.

"The Role of Conservatism in Securing and Maintaining Just Moral Constitutions: Toward a Theory of Complex Normative Systems" In NOMOS: Conservatism. New York: New York University Press, forthcoming.

work in progress

"The Priority of Social Morality".

"Hayekian "Classical" Liberalism."

"Self-organizing Moral Communities: Beyond Social Contract Theory."

"Is Public Reason a Normalization Project? Deep Diversity and the Open Society."

"Hobbes' Idea of Public Judgment: A Social Coordination Analysis."

"Amour-propre as a Basis of Fairness Norms Or, Why Being Touchy Protects Egoists from Exploitation."

"Locke's Liberal Theory of Public Reason."




The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom and Morality in a Diverse and Bounded World Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011, xx + 621pp.

On Philosophy, Politics and Economics. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2008, xii + 220pp.

Contemporary Theories of Liberalism: Public Reason as a Post-Enlightenment Project. London: Sage Publications, 2003, ix+240pp.

Political Concepts and Political Theories. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2000, xiv + 288pp.

Social Philosophy. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1999. xiv + 245pp.

Justificatory Liberalism: An Essay on Epistemology and Political Theory (Oxford Political Theory). New York: Oxford University Press, 1996, xiv + 374pp.

Value and Justification: The Foundations of Liberal Theory (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990, xviii + 540 pp.

The Modern Liberal Theory of Man. New York: St. Martins's Press, 1983, vii + 312 pp.

Co-edited Books

(with Fred D'Agostino) The Routledge Companion to Social and Political Philosophy

(with Christi Favor and Julian Lamont), Essays on Philosophy, Politics, and Economics: Integration and Common Research Projects. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010.

(with Chandran Kukathas) Handbook of Political Theory. London: Sage Publications, 2004, xvi + 448 pp.

(with William Sweet) The Philosophical Theory of the State and Related Essays by Bernard Bosanquet (Classic Studies in the History of Ideas). Indianapolis: St. Augustine Press, 2001, 426 + xxv pp.

(with Fred D’Agostino) Public Reason (International Research Library of Philosophy). Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 1998, xxiii + 470 pp.

(with S.I. Benn) Public and Private in Social Life. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1983, vii + 412 pp.

workshop, November 16 & 17, 2007

On November 16 and 17 here in Tucson, there will be a workshop on public reason. Click here to go the Workshop website, which includes the full program.

Particpants will include:

Alyssa Bernstein, Ohio University
Chris Bertram, University of Bristol
Bruce Brower, Tulane University
Tom Christiano, University of Arizona
Richard Dagger, Arizona State University
Peter de Marneffe, Arizona State University
Christopher Eberle, Naval Academy
Andrew Lister, Queens University
S.A. Lloyd, University of Southern California
James Nickel, Arizona State University
Jonathan Quong, University of Manchester
Shaun Young, Carleton University
Steven Wall, Bowling Green State University

Please register if you plan to attend, by writing me at ggaus@email.arizona.edu. The Workshop is open to everyone who (1) reads the papers ahead of time and (2) attends all the sessions. There will be dinners on Friday the 16th and Saturday the 17th.

Thanks to the Arizona Philosophy Department for their financial assistance.