Justificatory Liberalism: An Essay on Epistemology and Political Theory / Edition 1

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Gerald Gaus draws on current work in epistemology and cognitive psychology to defend a modest version of cognitive relativism. Building on this theory of personal justification, he asks, "How do we justify moral and political principles to others?" Here, the "populist" proposal put forward by "political liberals"—that the assent of all reasonable citizens must be obtained—is considered and rejected. Because reasonable people often ignore excellent reasons, moral and political principles can be considered conclusively justified, even in the face of some reasonable dissent. Conclusive justification, however, is difficult to achieve, and Gaus acknowledges that most of our public justifications are inconclusive. He then addresses the question of how citizens can adjudicate their inconclusive public justifications. The rule of law, liberal democracy and limited judicial review are defended as elements of a publicly justified umpiring procedure.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[The author's writing] is carried out with care and sophistication and shows command of a wide range of philosophical sources. [The book] is an important contribution [and] cannot be ignored by anyone seriously interested in this topic."—The Journal of Politics

"This impressive book is a detailed exploration...readers interested in contemporary liberalism will find their understanding of it significantly enhanced by this book"—Ethics

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195094404
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/28/1996
  • Series: Oxford Political Theory Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 392
  • Product dimensions: 6.19 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Gerald F. Gaus is Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at the University of Minnesota, Duluth and President of the International Economics and Philosophy Society. He is the author of Value and Justification: The Foundations of Liberal Theory (1990) and The Modern Liberal Theory of Man (1983).

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Table of Contents

1 Introductory: Epistemology and Political Theory 3
2 Believing for Reasons 17
3 The Internal and External Perspectives 30
4 Taming Relativism 45
5 Inferential Justification 63
6 Why All Justification Cannot Be Purely Inferential 74
7 Foundationalism and Intuitionism 85
8 Private, Social, and Public Reasoners 113
9 Whereat Is Public Justification? 130
10 Liberal Principles 159
11 Inconclusive Public Reasoning 179
12 The Rule of Law 195
13 Tracking Desiderata for Law-making Institutions 215
14 Political Equality 246
15 Challenges to Adjudicative Democracy 258
16 The Judiciary and the Limits of Legislation 275
17 Conclusion: Justificatory Liberalism and Its Rivals 292
Appendix: Liberal Principles in a World of States 296
Notes 303
Bibliography 340
Index 363
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2011


    Why does a DIGITAL version of a book have to cost $75?? It's idiotic to charge so much. The authors and publishers have already been paid for royalties and such. There's no shipping involved, no packaging, no handling. It's downloaded in a second. So why this price tag??

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