Contemporary Theories of Liberalism: Public Reason as a Post-Enlightenment Project (SAGE Politics Texts series)
Gerald F Gaus
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
`The author has provided us with a masterful overview and critique of liberal theorizing of the past quarter-century. While dealing exhaustively and fairly with each of a variety of broadly liberal approaches, Gaus also presents a compelling argument for his own preferred "justificatory" approach. His analyses range across familiar territory - Berlin, Gauthier,
Baier, Habermas, social choice theory, Rawls, and so on - and are always
illuminating and, taken together, provide both the newcomer and the old-hand much to ponder' - Fred D'Agostino, University of New England, Armidale
`[A]ll that man is and all that raises him above animals he owes to his reason' - Ludwig von Mises
Contemporary Theories of Liberalism provides students with a comprehensive overview of the key tenets of liberalism developed through Hobbes, Locke, Kant and Rawls to present day theories and debates.
Central to recent debate has been the idea of public reason. The text introduces and explores seven dominant theories of public reason, namely, pluralism, Neo-Hobbesianism, pragmatism, deliberative democracy, political democracy, Rawlsian political liberalism and justificatory liberalism.
As a proponent of justificatory liberalism, Gaus presents an accessible and critical analysis of all contempoary liberal political theory and powerfully illustrates the distinct and importsant contribution of justificatory liberalism.
Contemporary Theories of Liberalism is essential reading for students and academics seeking a deeper understanding of liberal political theory today.
Principle of Liberal Legitimacy: our beliefs, including our beliefs about basic justice, politics and common good, are often reasonable, but hardly conclusively correct. Indeed, different people will reasonably disagree on the justification of policies and programs. We are so far from perfectly rational agents (see section 5.3), that our normal condition is one of reasonable disagreement, even about the political (see sections 7.3–7.4). And that being the case, the confrontation between our
simply, as Rawls would have it, to constitutional essentials and matters of basic justice, but to all interferences with individual liberty. The extent of legitimate political action is bound to shrink. There can be no good justification for the majority simply legislating pursuit of its own goals or concerns in the face of reasonable objections by the minority, even a small minority. In contrast to political liberalism, this seems a more genuinely liberal conception of politics. Liberals
values, their own values are held to be objectively inferior to others! Whether or not we endorse Gray’s view of objective value rankings, insofar as Gray can identify criteria of political legitimacy, it is because he does, after all, believe that common human reason reveals the principles of political right. It is not pluralism or modus vivendi that justifies these principles. Like Berlin, political justification begins when pluralism runs out. For those more deeply inspired by the Romantics –
nearer the opinion approaches unanimity, the greater is the dominance of the general will. On the other hand, long debates, dissensions, and tumult proclaim the ascendancy of particular interests and the decline of the state’.51 Although deliberative democrats such as Cohen wish to draw back from the ideal of Real Political Consensus, it appears an essential part of their doctrine. The defining feature of deliberative democratic theories is that public justification is tied to actual discourse;
philosophers of science – have come to doubt this simple picture. The simple picture of science tells us that the rules of science are justified because they maximize the discovery of truth. But how could we know that? Most obviously, how could we possibly know what rules would maximize the discovery of truth; we would have to know the alternative rules and the truths that their use would have uncovered that are not presently known to us. But how could we know that? More insidi-ously for the