Public Reason and Religious Disagreement from Hobbes to Rawls

The idea of public reason is almost always associated with John Rawls’ political liberalism. Many, no doubt, believe that if there is such a creature as “public reason liberalism” it is a Rawlsian creation. In this talk I take some modest steps to correct this misreading, showing how social contract theory was fundamentally and explicitly concerned with identifying a source of public reason. Liberalism and public reason, I believe, arose together, as interrelated responses to the modern problem of creating a stable social order in societies deeply divided by religious and moral disagreements.

Biography: Gerald Gaus is the James E. Rogers Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona, where he directs the program in Philosophy, Politics, Economics & Law. His most recent book, the Tyranny of the Ideal: Justice in a Diverse Society, is forthcoming from Princeton University Press.

Date: 10 September 2015
Time: 18:00-19:30
Location: Lecture hall, Leiden University College, Anna van Buerenplein 301, The Hague (stone throw from The Hague Central Station)

Attendance is free and there is no need to register. For questions please contact:

This lecture is organised by the European Hobbes Society in collaboration with the Leiden Centre for Political Philosophy, and generously sponsored by the Faculty Campus the Hague, Leiden University and Leiden University Fund.