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

  • Gerald Gaus


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 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentUniversity of ArizonaAZUSA

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