A summary of chapters in a reading group presentation:
‘Jerry has argued throughout the book that the conception of the person employed within public reason liberalism and liberalism broadly speaking must move in this Hayekian direction. If public reason liberals follow Jerry’s lead, the fundamental structure of public reason and even the nature of the social contract theorists’ project must substantially change. In short, political justification must not begin with deriving the rationality of rule-following from a teleological conception of practical reason. Instead, it must begin with an understanding of the nature of human beings who are already rule-followers and the nature of the moral emotions and cooperative activities that accompany such rule-following. It is in this way that Jerry moves most forcefully away from Hobbesian conceptions of public reason. He goes further by arguing that even the Kantian conception of the person he endorses cannot be constructed out of practical reason alone. Instead, human nature contains Kantian elements for thoroughly Humean-Hayekian-evolution reasons. Our rule-following nature is contingent on our social development (though no less contingent than our goal-seeking nature).’
Any thoughts and comments are welcome. Gaus tries to reconcile three ideas:
1. The reality of deep disagreement, and the fact that private reason leads each of us to vastly differing conclusions about the nature of truth and how to live and what to do; how to constrain our behavior.
2. The principle that no one has any natural authority over anyone else
3. The principle that social authority is necessary for social life. We are already born and woven into such a fabric and are already rule-followers to some extent.
For Gaus, instrumentalists do not deal persuasively with number 003, and some empirical research, cog-sci, economics etc. is perhaps necessary for the practice of good political philosophy.
In addition, he cites his three primary influences as Thomas Hobbes, John Rawls, and Amartya Sen.
Some liberaltarians I know are quite pleased.
Addition: And a friend asks?: “Can you see life, liberty, and property from here?”
Addition: Public Reason also has an audio interview here. Likely worth your time.
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