On two critics of justificatory liberalism: A response to wall and Lister

Gerald Gaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


In replying to Steven Wall's and Andrew Lister's thoughtful essays on my account of justificatory liberalism in this issue, I respond to many of their specific criticisms while taking the opportunity to explicate the foundations of justificatory liberalism. Justificatory liberalism takes seriously the moral requirement to justify all claims of authority over others, as well as all coercive interferences with their lives. If we do so, although we are by no means committed to libertarianism, we find that that many of our cherished values, moral intuitions, and political aspirations no longer ground the range of authority over others many of us would claim. In this sense, justificatory liberalism is a theory of limited authority and limited government - which is what a genuinely liberal theory must be.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-212
Number of pages36
JournalPolitics, Philosophy and Economics
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Coercion
  • Justificatory liberalism
  • Liberty
  • Lister
  • Public justification
  • Wall

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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