selected published papers


Self-organizing Moral Systems: Beyond Social Contract Theory, Politics, Philosophy and Economics, vol. 17 (May 2018): 119-147.

"It Can't Be Rational Choice All the Way Down: Comprehensive Hobbesianism and the Origins of the Moral Order." In In Buchanan’s Tensions: Reexamining the Political Economy and Philosophy of James M. Buchanan, edited by be Peter J. Boettke and Solomon Stein. Arlington, VA: Mercatus Center, 2018: 117-47.

"The Complexity of a Diverse Moral Order." The Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy, vol. 16 (2018): 645-79.

(with Piper Bringhurst), "Positive Freedom and the General Will." in The Oxford Handbook of Freedom, edited by David Schmidtz. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018: 40-58..

(with Chad Van Schoelandt ), "Political and Distributive Justice." in The Oxford Handbook of Distributive Justice, edited by Serena Olsaretti. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018: 283-305.

"Political Philosophy as the Study of Complex Normative Systems," Cosmos + Taxis, vol. 5 (issue 2, 2018): 62-78.

(with Chad Van Schoelandt) "Consensus on What? Convergence for What? Four Models of Political Liberalism." Ethics,vol. 128 (October 2017): 145-172.

"Hayekian "Classical" Liberalism." In The Routledge Handbook of Libertarianism, edited by Jason Brennan, Bas van der Vossen, and David Schmidtz. New York Routledge, 2018): 34-52.

"The Priority of Social Morality". In Morality, Governance, and Social Institutions: Reflections on Russell Hardin, edited by Thomas Christiano, Ingrid Creppell and Jack Knight. New York: Palgrave, 2018.

"Is Public Reason a Normalization Project? Deep Diversity and the Open Society." Social Philosophy Today,vol. 33 (2017): 27-55.

"Social Morality and the Primacy of Individual Perspectives" Review of Austrian Economics,vol. 30 (2017), 377-396.

(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, 2017: 175-201.

(with Shaun Nichols)"Moral Learning in the Open Society: The Theory and Practice of Natural Liberty," Social Philosophy and Policy, vol. 34 (Summer 2017): 79-101.

"Locke's Liberal Theory of Public Reason," in Piers Norris Turner and Gerald Gaus, eds. Public Reason in the History of Political Philosophy. New York: Routledge, 2018: 163-83.

'The Commonwealth of Bees: On the Impossibility of Justice-through-Ethos, Social Philosophy & Policy, vol. 33 (2016): 96-121.

"The Open Society as a Rule-Based Order," Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, vol. 9 (Summer 2016): 1-13.

"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,2016: 256-291.

(with John Thrasher), "Rational Choice in the Original Position." in The Original Position, edited by Timothy Hinton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016: 39-58.

"Mill's Normative Political Economy." The Blackwell Companion to Mill, edited by Christopher Macleod and Dale Miller. New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2016

"The Egalitarian Species." Social Philosophy and Policy," vol. 31 (Spring 2015): 1-27

"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.

"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.

(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.

"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.

"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 wrote my doctoral dissertation under John W. Chapman, at the University of Pittsburgh. John taught me that political theorists are not moralists: economics, political science, law, history, anthropology, and psychology— as well as philosophy — are all critical in thinking about appropriate ways for humans to organize themselves. After receiving my Ph.D. in 1979, I took up a Research Fellowship at the Australian National University, where I worked closely with Stanley Benn until his death in 1985. If John taught me how to be a political theorist, Stanley taught me how to be a philosopher. Yet both stressed a fundamental lesson: don't follow philosophical fashion and trendiness, but work on the problems that one thinks are important. So I have spent a good deal of my career swimming against the current. It can be tiring, but is more invigorating than floating downstream.

We live in an age of deep ideological and moral conflict, not only in politics but in social and political theory. Whatever might be one's own convictions about the ultimate truth of the matter, it is not one on which all reasonable citizens will converge: as far a public moral reasoning goes, there are a number of reasonable ways of ordering social and political institutions. Each is convinced that his political views represent the truth, but to your neighbor they are errors. In the midst of this, mainstream political philosophy continues to spin out endless rationalizations of the theorist’s ideological convictions. What truly flummoxes contemporary political philosophy is how to seriously and productively theorize about a deeply morally diverse society. Given that this is defining feature of our time, it is hard to overestimate how devastating a failure this is.

My work is part of what has been called “New Diversity Theory.” The crux of this approach is to analyze moral diversity not as moral reasoning gone awry, or even as a feature of free societies to be managed, but as a fundamental moral phenomenon. The heart of New Diversity Theory is that moral difference is not simply a challenge to a reasonably stable moral order (though it certainly can be), but a critical resource for free societies to discover better ways of living together under conditions of limited knowledge and an unpredictable environment. Others pursuing this approach include Fred D’Agostino, Ryan Muldoon, Julian Müller, Paul Dragos Aligica and — I’m delighted to say — a number of my former students.

On my view the public reason project that emanates from Rawls’s work is an articulation of New Diversity Theory. In contrast to many so-called “Rawlsians,” I do not see appeal to “public reason” as a way to valorize a controversial conception of distributive justice. Rather, the project seeks to understand how a diverse society can, consistent with the moral integrity of its citizens, come to reconcile on a common moral framework to regulate their complex interactions. In the last few years I have been especially concerned with whether such a publicly justified moral framework can arise within the complex, extended, open society which we have created. Political philosophers have been too enamored of central moral plans (aka the traditional social contract) and principles, and have paid far too little attention to the self-organizing forces underlying social and moral norms

These themes are further developed in a book I am now writing, The Open Society and its Complexities, to be published by OUP. Inspired by Hayek, I argue that the open society is an evolved, highly complex largely self-organized order, that in many ways confounds our efforts not simply to govern it, but to justify it. If we do not understand what our moral rules do for us or their social consequences, how can we begin to justify our social-moral life, or engage in intelligent democratic self-governance? Social and political philosophers almost always simply ignore these problems. In their justificatory projects they have overwhelmingly relied on their moral intuitions applied to models of simple, predictable, social systems, and so have produced a bevy of normative principles and plans inappropriate to — and often fundamentally hostile to — our complex open society. The aim of this book is to explore what forms of justification and self-governance are consistent with the diversity and complexity of the open society.

I am currently head of the Department of Political Economy and Moral Science. The aim of this new department — one of the first of its kind — is to build an outstanding and truly interdisciplinary, innovative PPE group. Faculty in the program employ formal models and empirical data in investigating normative questions in social and political theory, political economy and public policy. We have resurrected the term "moral science" to stress our agreement with Hume that normative inquiry must begin with what humans are like, and their characteristic capacities and forms of social life.

email: jerrygaus@gmail.com

FALL 2019

Phil 596F: Seminar in Political Philosophy – Model Thinking in Political Philosophy

Tuesdays: 3:30-6:00 pm

This seminar will be co-taught with Peter Vanderschraaf, Justin Brunner and Vlad Tarko from the Department of Political Economy and Moral Science. Ryan Muldoon, Philosophy at SUNY/Buffalo, will visit for a session.

A lot of political philosophy involves appeals to model thinking – from the Prisoner’s Dilemma, Harsnayi’s and Rawls’s original positions and the social contract to Cohen’s camping trip. This seminar will consider what model thinking can, and cannot, tell us about social and political phenomena and their evaluation. In addition to looking at the methodology of model thinking, we will also examine some of the basic tools of modeling political philosophy, including evolutionary and agent-based models.

selected forthcoming papers

"What Might Democratic Self-governance in a Complex Social World Look Like?" San Diego Law Review

"Morality as a Complex Adaptive System: Rethinking Hayek's Social Ethics" to appear in The Oxford Handbook of Ethics and Economics, edited by Mark D. White, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

In Defense of (Some) Vainglory: The Advantages of Polymorphic Hobbesianism in James M. Buchanan: A Theorist of Political Economy and Social Philosophy, edited by Richard E. Wagner. New York: Palgrave Macmillan

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

work in progress

"Janus-Faced Justification."

"Diversity in the Moral Sciences"

(with Jacob Barrett) "Laws, Norms, and Public Justification: The Limits of Law as an Instrument of Reform"

"Diversity, Discovery and Justification" [Comment on Muldoon]

"Moral Conflict and Prudential Agreement: Michael Moehler’s Minimal Morality."

"Respect for Persons and Public Justification."

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




The Tyranny of the Ideal: Justice in a Diverse Society. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016, xxii + 289pp.

The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom and Morality in a Diverse and Bounded World Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011, xx + 612.

You can download the book here. Username is: OPR Password is: PublicReason2012!. If you do download, please try to contribute something to Amnesty International.

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 Piers Norris Turner) Public Reason in the History of Political Philosophy.New York: Routledge, 2018, vii+4000 pp.

(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