We are pleased to share that a new article by PPE Society member Kevin Vallier is now available in the Journal of the American Philosophical Association, one that gives an in-depth overview of works by the late Jerry Gaus. Gaus, a founding member of the PPE Society who died unexpectedly in 2020, left a deep impression on the PPE community with his passing.
“When my teacher, Jerry Gaus, died unexpectedly in 2020, I felt that his legacy might slip away from us. So, as my way of mourning, I decided to reread his main works and put together an article that I thought summarized the main themes and ideas in Jerry’s work. That project is what you see here. I put heart into this one.”Kevin Vallier
Abstract: Gerald Gaus was one of the leading liberal theorists of the early twenty-first century. He defended liberal order based on its unique capacity to handle deep disagreement and pressed liberals toward a principled openness to pluralism and diversity. Yet, almost everything written about Gaus’s work is evaluative: determining whether his arguments succeed or fail. This essay breaks from the pack by outlining underlying themes in his work. I argue that Gaus explored how to sustain moral relations between persons in light of the institutional threats of social control, evaluative pluralism, and institutional complexity, and the psychological threat of acting solely from what I shall call the mere first-personal point of view. The idea of public justification is the key to sustaining moral relations in the face of such challenges. When a society’s moral and political rules are justified to each person, moral relations survive the threats they face.
The PPE Society is grateful for the insightful body of work Gaus left behind, and we are grateful for his students, like Vallier, who keep his memory and scholarship alive.