Philosophical Studies

, Volume 170, Issue 3, pp 563–577 | Cite as

The good, the bad, and the ugly: three agent-type challenges to The Order of Public Reason



In this issue of Philosophical Studies, Richard Arneson, Jonathan Quong and Robert Talisse contribute papers discussing The Order of Public Reason (OPR). All press what I call “agent-type challenges” to the project of OPR. In different ways they all focus on a type (or types) of moral (or sometimes not-so-moral) agent. Arneson presents a good person who is so concerned with doing the best thing she does not truly endorse social morality; Quong a bad person who rejects it and violates the basic rights of others, and Talisse a morally ugly person, a hypocrite, who criticizes others for failing to do what he does not do. All suggest that OPR does not give a satisfying account of what we are to say to, or how we should act towards, such agents. In my response I highlight some core concerns of OPR, while also seeking to show that OPR does not say quite what they think it says, and it often leaves them room for saying what they would like to say about such agents.


Order of public reason Social morality Moral authority Moral theory 


  1. Gaus, G. (2014a). On the appropriate mode of justifying a public moral constitution. The Harvard Review of Philosophy, 19.Google Scholar
  2. Gaus, G. (2014b). The Egalitarian species. Social Philosophy & Policy, 31(2).Google Scholar
  3. Gaus, G. (forthcoming a). On theorizing about social morality. European Journal of Analytic Philosophy.Google Scholar
  4. Gaus, G. (forthcoming b). The role of conservatism in securing and maintaining just moral constitutions: Toward a theory of complex normative systems. In S. Levison & M. Williams (Eds.), nomos : Conservatism. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Green, T. H. (1986). Lectures on the principles of political obligation. In P. Harris & J. Morrow (Eds.), Lectures on the principles of political obligation and other writings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Hobbes, T. (1994). Leviathan (E. Curley, Ed.). Indianapolis: Hackett.Google Scholar
  7. Kant, I. (1999). The metaphysical elements of justice (2nd ed.). (J. Ladd, Ed., Trans.). Indianapolis: Hackett.Google Scholar
  8. Rawls, J. (1999a). The independence of moral theory. In S. Freeman (Ed.), John Rawls: Collected papers (pp. 286–302). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Rawls, J. (1999b). Kantian constructivism in moral theory. In S. Freeman (Ed.), John Rawls: Collected papers (pp. 303–358). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Rawls, John. (2005). Political liberalism (Expanded ed.). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Sayre-McCord, G. (2002). Criminal justice and legal reparations as an alternative to punishment. In E. Villanveua (Ed.), Legal and political philosophy (pp. 307–338). Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  12. Shoemaker, D. W. (2011). Psychopathy, responsibility, and the moral/conventional distinction. The Southern Journal of Philosophy, 49(Special Supplemental), 99–124.Google Scholar
  13. Smith, A. (1982). The theory of moral sentiments. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund Inc.Google Scholar
  14. Strawson, P. F. (1961). Social morality and individual ideal. Philosophy, 36(1961), 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Strawson, P. F. (1962). Freedom and resentment. Proceedings of the British Academy, 48, 187–211.Google Scholar
  16. Vallier, K. (2014). Beyond separation: Uniting liberal politics and public faith. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Van Schoelandt, C. (2014). Justification, coercion, and the place of public reason. Working Paper, University of Arizona Philosophy Department.Google Scholar
  18. Weithman, P. (2010). Why political liberalism?. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Weithman, P. (2014). Relational equality and inherent stability. Social Philosophy & Policy, 31(2).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentUniversity of ArizonaAZUSA

Personalised recommendations