Social Morality and the Primacy of Individual Perspectives

GERALD GAUS
THE REVIEW OF AUSTRIAN ECONOMICS (2016). ADVANCED ONLINE PUBLICATION. DOI: 10.1007/s11138-016-0358-8

Abstract: This paper examines themes and concerns about my book, The Order of Public Reason, raised in the three essays in this symposium by Peter Boettke & Rosolino Candela, Michael Munger and Kevin Vallier. The three essays present variations on a common theme: I need to embrace deeper commitments than The Order of Public Reason acknowledges. In my estimation these proposals lead to places that I do not wish to go — nor should anyone devoted to core Hayekian insights. The goal of the book is show how a diversity of moral views can lead to a cooperative social morality while abjuring as far as possible “external” moral claims — claims that do not derive from the perspectives of cooperating individuals. The diverse individual moral perspectives, and what they understand as normative, must be the real engines of social normativity. In this essay I stress the primacy of the individual normative perspectives in generating social morality; this helps show why the urge to embrace deeper commitments should be resisted. Rather than going over the presentation in The Order of Public Reason to stress this point, I sketch a modest recasting of the analysis in terms of models of individual moral interaction.