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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.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Journal of the American Philosophical Association


Cambridge University Press


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