Jerry Gaus Tribute

Most, if not all, of our readers have by now heard of the tragic and sudden death of political philosopher Gerald (Jerry) Gaus last week. Jerry was an award-winning teacher and a prolific scholar, whose many publications most recently include his forthcoming The Open Society and Its Complexities (Oxford University Press’s Philosophy, Politics, and Economics book series) and a new edition of his On Philosophy, Politics, & Economics (Princeton University Press) revised with John Thrasher. With the help of Chad Van Schoelandt (my colleague and a former student of Jerry’s), we have invited many of Jerry’s friends, colleagues, and students to remember him here, but we also invite anyone else who knew Jerry to provide their own remembrances here as well.

28 Replies to “Jerry Gaus Tribute

  1. I met Jerry twice in my life.
    The first time, was early on in my Masters when he came over to Singapore to give a talk. The second time was half way through my Masters’ whenI went over to Tucson for a month on a short late fall exchange. He was great. While I did eventually end up differing from him in some of our views (e.g. about the appropriate level of idealisation in political liberalism) I wouldn’t be where I currently am, philosophically speaking, without him.

    I only just found out about this via this post.

  2. This week since Jerry’s passing has been painful and emotionally volatile for it is the loss of not only a wonderful philosopher, teacher, and mentor, but also a close friend. The support of a network of Jerry’s former students made it somewhat less devastating. Jerry’s deep concern for his students and his collaborative approach to philosophy cultivated valuable social bonds among a motley crew. In working through our grief, we collaborated to produce an all-too-brief discussion of some of Jerry’s work projects and their place in the history of social philosophy and ongoing research agendas ( https://ppesociety.org/in-memoriam-jerry-gaus/ ).

    Here, instead of his work, I want to reflect on the tremendous fun it was to be one of Jerry’s students. In a short piece on his philosophy of graduate teaching, Jerry identified four primary dimensions of how he conducted seminars: self-exploration, cooperation, professional standards, and the joy of philosophical inquiry. And the seminars were joyous occasions, both in the philosophic work itself and in the friendly banter and interactions around the philosophy. Along with all the serious work and demanding standards, we could also joke and laugh with Jerry.

    Out of countless wonderful moments, I’ll tell two short stories regarding things people have seen. The first is Jerry’s no-hedgehogs sign. The other is the picture of me one gets when googling ‘Jerry Gaus.’

    Many people know that Jerry condemned the ‘hedgehogosity’ of much mainstream political philosophy and championed a foxy approach willing to draw on wide ranging ideas and disciplines. Tom Christiano ran a reading group and for a while we were reading Dworkin’s Justice for Hedgehogs, so I cut out the picture of the hedgehog from the dust jacket and tape it at eye level on Jerry’s door; just a hedgehog there staring at him whenever he next went to his office. The next day I say that the hedgehog was still there but now behind a red circle and line indicating no-hedgehogs, rolling with and reversing my little prank. The no-hedgehogs sign remained on his door for years.

    Fall 2012, I was taking a seminar from Jerry that happened to meet on Halloween. Though I do not normally wear a costume for Halloween, I decided that year to dress as Jerry. Walking through the department during the day in jeans, Hawaiian shirt, and a shoulder length white wig did result in multiple people mistaking me for Jerry at a distance. Encountering a few of my classmates in the hall provided opportunities to work on my impressions and to practice asking them questions about the day’s reading. Arriving to the classroom early, I made sure to sit in the traditional instructor’s seat, plop my legal pad of notes and the text on the table, reclines back in the chair with my feet on the edge of the table as Jerry would periodically do, and bantered for a bit with the students. When Jerry arrived, I fought to maintain a straight face while he displayed a mix surprise and dismay before going to my usual seat. Before I actually began to teach the class, we switch places and he made an off-hand comment about having to add this to the list of “ways to get a B” on future syllabi. Importantly, earlier in the day I got a picture with Virgil Storr, who was at UA as a visiting scholar. Jerry soon got the picture and posted it to his website. It soon became a top hit in ‘Jerry Gaus’ Google image searches and eventually worked its way to the picture Google displays pictures with his bios it became.

  3. I mourn the passing of Jerry Gaus, a philosophical powerhouse and a good and true friend. I believe I first met Jerry in 1992 at a conference I organized on “Contemporary Natural Rights Theory.” I knew of Jerry and his work – especially his outstanding Value and Justification (1990) through our mutual friend, Loren Lomasky. At that time Jerry was at the University of Minnesota, Duluth either entirely in the Department of Political Science or in some way also associated with the Department of Philosophy. From that time on we meet fairly frequently as philosophical gatherings – often at Liberty Fund colloquia which he or I directed. I recall a colloquium on F.A. Hayek that I organized in 1999 which I like to think helped to spark Jerry’s interest in and great subsequent work on Hayek. (In later years, Jerry reminded me of an essay I published around 1980 in which I praised an essay by Jerry as “not entirely looney.”)
    Around 2000, the second of two recruiting efforts brought Jerry to Tulane University – to the Department of Philosophy and the Murphy Institute of Political Economy. Tulane’s philosophy and political economy programs were graced and invigorated by Jerry until he left for the University of Arizona around 2007. After Jerry and Andrea moved to Tucson, I would often contact them when I was heading out that way for some philosophical meeting to invite them out to dinner. Instead, a wonderful tradition evolved of my coming to their home for a dinner party for which I was always assigned the task of grilling the steaks for the three of us plus other guests. Not until about the third of these dinners did it occur to me that the family dogs were never present. When I asked about this Jerry said that since Andrea and he knew I did not much like those dogs, they always boarded the dogs when I was visiting.
    I have many wonderful memories of times with Jerry. I’ll recount just one. In October of 2001 – only a month or so after the 9/11 attacks — we were both participants in a meeting in Punta de Esta, Uruguay (a colloquium mostly on the writings of Judy Thomson and Francis Kamm). Since we were going to be in the area, we both also had been invited to present papers at the School of Law at Universidad Di Tella in Buenos Aires. For some reason, my flight itinerary involved flying to Montevideo, then to Buenos Aires, then back to Montevideo, then back to the U.S. In the return trip, I had a six hour layover at the Montevideo airport. Jerry was scheduled to fly back directly to the U.S. from Buenos Aires. I must have mentioned my flight schedule to Jerry before the grand tour because when we met up in Uruguay he told me that he had changed his return flights so that he would be flying back from Buenos Aires through Montevideo so he could keep me company during (most of) my six hour layover.
    When we returned (on the same rickety DC-3) to the Montevideo airport after our lectures in Buenos Aires, we found that as a security measure the airport was now packed with teenage members of the Uruguay militia – all toting submachine guns and emitting huge clouds of cigarette smoke. Jerry and I discussed which of us would inform the teenagers that smoking was prohibited in the airport. However, we discovered that we could not identify a decision that we both had reason to endorse. Instead, we decided to collaborate on the one paper we wrote together, “Libertarianism and Classical Liberalism,” a survey of the range of views within these categories.
    When Jerry’s flight was called, he weaved his way through the armed teenagers but encountered a difficulty at the gate. He had taken along some aspirin, but had put the aspirin in a leftover prescription medicine bottle. The people at the gate pointed out that the contents of the bottle did not match the prescription label and this was highly suspicious especially in light of Jerry’s strange recent change of itinerary. I watched Jerry arguing with the gatekeepers and resisted a sudden urge to yell, “Run for it Jerry, run for it.” Later I explained to Jerry that, on the theory that one is responsible for what one could have prevented but chose not to prevent, I was responsible for his getting safely on that flight back to the U.S.
    One of the things that I learned through my interaction with Jerry is how much two people can agree on deep philosophical matters and still disagree on others. Jerry and I deeply agreed on the importance of rules and the rationality of rule-based decision-making. We deeply agreed about the importance of local knowledge and the value of institutions – especially the institutions of property –that enable and encourage people to cultivate and act upon their local knowledge. We deeply agreed about the value of liberty and need to justify any coercive actions to which people are subjected. Yet we deeply disagreed about whether the traditional goal of political philosophy, viz., to identify (at least in general terms) the best or most justified type of political (or anti-political) order, is a worthwhile or even sensible goal. Jerry thought that there was something authoritarian (or even tyrannical) about even libertarian versions of the traditional enterprise. I have thought that his own anti-authoritarian project itself turns on deeply libertarian presuppositions. The closest thing to a published version of this dispute – which shows Jerry at his engaging best – appeared in Jerry’s online essay “For a New Liberalism” along with comments and counter-comments by Jerry. See http://www.cato-unbound.or/october-2011.
    As always, with the passing of a friend, one realizes how much more should have been said.
    Eric Mack, Tulane University

  4. Jerry had a keen sense of how to apply decision theory to the evolution of social morality. But he also used it to diagnose people who fall for the latest philosophical fads. “I’ll bet he’s a one boxer,” Jerry would say, referring to Newcomb’s Paradox.

    Apart from his wit, Jerry was (along with Geoff Brennan) the driving force behind the American approach to PPE. After he published some of his introductory lectures as a textbook, I decided to put a PPE anthology together (with Brennan, Munger, and Sayre-McCord) that I’ve assigned along with Jerry’s book ever since. It acknowledged a handful of people, but it was dedicated to Jerry. So was my latest book: “More than anyone else, Jerry Gaus taught me not to care what the busybodies in our profession think. He encouraged me to read widely, and to avoid chasing prestige rather than truth. I dedicate this book to my mentor and friend, the most original thinker I know, Jerry Gaus.”

  5. I met Jerry in Fall 2006, during my second year as a graduate student in philosophy at the University of Arizona. My first year hadn’t been easy. My father and grandmother had died shortly before I began the program in 2005, and I had struggled to find my footing. By my second year, I had started to wonder whether I had what it takes to be a philosopher.

    That semester, Jerry taught a seminar on Contemporary Theories of Liberalism (based on his 2003 book by the same name). I remember the first day in the seminar room—the excitement of meeting the department’s new senior hire, hoping to connect with someone whose work I admired. Perhaps we’d strike up a friendship. Maybe he’d see something in me that others did not.

    In walked a man with long gray hair, wearing a button-up Hawaiian shirt and jeans. (This was Jerry’s uniform and I seldom saw him wear anything different, in fifteen years.) He began class by asking the students what we worked on. I had a fancy for Aristotle at the time, and when I mentioned this, Jerry smiled, made a cross with his arms … and *hissed* with a wry grin. (Jerry was not a big fan of the ancients). This was the first of many times he would make me laugh, sometimes to the point of tears, and it happened in the first five minutes of knowing him.

    Jerry became all I had hoped for on that very first day. He was an exacting advisor, but in ways that always improved my work. The more I invested in becoming a better student, the more of his time and energy he would pour into my development. He was always open to discussing whatever confused and disorganized philosophical thought I had, even when I think he preferred to take it easy and have a beer. Over the next five years, I worked closely with Jerry almost every weekday, if not in class, then in his office, or by email. I probably stood in between him and a beer many times. I don’t know why he tolerated this, but he did.

    I would sometimes try to be a good sport by joining him in the bar. Sadly, I can’t stand most alcoholic beverages, but I tried a few drinks from time to time to see if I could grow accustomed to it. It *never* worked, and Jerry always laughed. Eventually we gave up trying to get me accustomed to beer, and he’d sometimes rib me a bit by ordering me a “tall glass of water.”

    Thank you, Jerry, for putting up with me, for helping me, for granting me insight, and for making me laugh. I will always be grateful.

  6. I am very lucky to count Jerry as a friend and a mentor. Jerry was one of my favorite people to talk to, and bounce ideas off of. I loved it. I saw him as a kindred spirit, and someone to aspire to be more like.

    Many of the people who have come across my work assume that I was a PhD student of Jerry’s. I wasn’t – indeed we never talked until after my PhD. We shared an interest in diversity, complexity, norms, and discovery, which especially when I was first starting out, were kind of weird topics to work on. But more likely, it was because he made it a point to talk up my work to others, and generally do all the stuff a generous advisor does for their students. He also got in the habit of inviting me out to Arizona to guest lecture in his seminars when he taught a paper of mine. He was incredibly generous toward me, and he didn’t have to do any of that.

    This was all a stroke of luck on my part. I only ever got on Jerry’s radar because I happened to have read a nice paper by Fred D’Agostino on the division of cognitive labor, a bit after I had written an article on the subject, and I wrote him to talk about our shared interest in the topic. In the conversation, Fred very kindly asked to read my dissertation, which he read in one day and asked to send it to “his friend Jerry.” Not having any clue who he was referring to, I said sure. I didn’t think much of it until, a month or two later, I got a four-page email from Jerry about what he thought of my dissertation. That was 11 years ago. We never stopped the back and forth. Eventually, Jerry got tired of only talking by email, so he got me invited to a conference that was far fancier than I had a right to be at. I worked up the courage to ask to tag along with Jerry and Fred when they went for a drink, and I had the most incredible time.

    In the many years since, I have been fortunate to have Jerry as a friend and fellow traveler. I am sad that I won’t be able to talk to my friend anymore. I am grateful that he built up a community, and brought me into the fold.

  7. I won the scholarly lottery with Jerry in my life. He came to Tulane the year after I began there as a grad student. He later joined my dissertation committee and graciously remained on it after transferring.

    Many people have shared their warm remembrances of his brilliance and generosity as a mentor. My experience was no different. Jerry was a game-changer and an intellectual giant. The mark he left on philosophy and political economy will be around as long as we still record history.

    I was an unconfident grad student but Jerry spotted something worth coaching. In addition to staying on my committee after leaving Tulane, he invited me to be editorial assistant for two years at the PPE journal, along with an amazing year as a visiting pre-doc scholar at Arizona. Although I’m now in the non-profit world rather than academia, I hope to have lived up to his expectations through my, admittedly, modest output to date.

    Jerry had a Jefferson Starship poster in his office. Summer of 2008, I’m driving to the airport to fly back to New Orleans for my thesis defense. What comes on the radio? “Count on Me” by Jefferson Starship. A coincidence of course, but I felt an uncanny comfort in that moment, like this would all be fine. You could always count on him. He’d be there as long as you brought your best.

    I will never be able to pay back the debt I owe him, other than to be the best colleague possible for today’s brilliant scholars of liberalism, many among his diaspora whom I consider friends. My warmest thoughts go out to his family. This IPA’s for you, Jerry, and you better believe I’m updating my wardrobe of Hawaiian shirts.

  8. Jerry Gaus is gone. Too soon, too suddenly, Sad beyond words. Still, with this I say farewell to a dear friend, a brilliant philosopher, and an extraordinarily gifted and dedicated teacher. No one who reads philosophy needs to learn from the many expressions of grief at his passing the ways in which Jerry’s creative, rigorous and always profound writings changed for the better political philosophy from the time his comet first lit the night. But some who were not so fortunate to know The Rogers Professor of Philosophy personally – perhaps only meeting him through his books and articles – may not understand how deeply Jerry loved Andrea and Kelly – his wife and daughter. And those who glimpsed our now vanished colleague only from afar may not realize that Jerry cared enough about his individual students, graduate and undergraduate, to recognize, respect and resonate to their personal stories. Those who brought their best efforts into Jerry’s classroom, had a champion for life, someone who, when their chips were done, would stand with, and for, them even at cost to himself. Jerry stood tall in constant defense of the highest academic values, always fearlessly welcoming the challenge of diversity in rigorous objective thought that the interdisciplinary chase for truth demands. It is a mystery to me how Jerry managed in the midst of the most productive period of his career to found and lead with complete success the University of Arizona’s program in philosophy, politics and economics and, most recently, to serve with distinction as Head of the University’s Department of Political Economy and Moral Sciences. This man, mo chara, did “not go gentle into that good night”.

  9. After mentioning to him a professional disappointment, Jerry quoted to me these lines from Ricky Nelson’s “Garden Party,” a song about a humiliating experience performing at Madison Square Garden: “You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself.” Jerry’s lesson was that you can’t put much stock in external validation. No matter what you do, some people will treat you or your work with indifference, even hostility. Jerry faced his share of these things throughout his career. His response was to take pleasure in living up to his own standards—which, for both personal conduct and scholarly output, were quite high. And he tried to cultivate this same trait in his students. Don’t worry about professional recognition. Work hard, please yourself, and maybe recognition will follow. Maybe it won’t. But if you’ve learned your lesson well, that won’t matter.

    I wish I had a few more decades to get to know Jerry better.

  10. Steve Wall asked me to post his remarks. Steve writes:

    I met Jerry twenty years ago at a conference. I was just out of graduate school and Jerry had recently published Justificatory Liberalism. He took me out for a beer, and we had a terrific discussion on public reason and a range of other topics.

    Jerry was always interested in younger philosophers. I think he felt an obligation of sorts to encourage them, if he thought they had promise; and he also was keen to learn from them. This always impressed me about Jerry. He knew a good idea can come from any quarter. And besides, as he once told me, “I already know what all the old guys think.”

    I stayed in touch with Jerry, and we occasionally would get together at conferences. Then in 2008 I got an email from him asking me if I might be interested in coming to Arizona. I was, and Jerry and I became colleagues for the next decade. We worked together in Arizona’s PPEL program, which Jerry was so committed to, and we would meet every so often to talk department politics and philosophy over beers. I learned so much from our discussions, and feel very lucky to have had him as a colleague. Jerry had a deep knowledge of the history of political theory, and some of our best discussions were on these topics. He worked very hard, and he seemed to have read everything. He thought political philosophy, as it was being done by most of us, was too narrow; and that it should be more engaged with economics, game theory, political science, social theory, etc. I thought his best argument for this view was his own work.

    I taught a graduate seminar with Jerry a few years ago on Rawlsian political liberalism and related public reason views. It was a terrific experience for me. Jerry understood the Rawlsian project better than anyone I knew, and although he was quite sympathetic to it, his formidable intelligence and independence of mind helped him see fault-lines in the project that others missed. In many ways, Jerry was a very anti-ideological political philosopher. He pursued problems, tracing out where they took him.

    On a personal level, Jerry had a great sense of humor, often self-deprecating. He was also very forthright, perhaps the most forthright person I have ever met. He would always tell you directly what he thought. I used to joke with Jerry about his inability to be inauthentic when the occasion called for a measure of inauthenticity. Each year at the celebration dinner for the graduating PPEL students Jerry, as director of the program, would have to make a speech about the accomplishments of that year’s cohort. He would start, with all the smiling parents sitting there, by saying “all the students this year were outstanding”, but then he would stop himself it seemed involuntarily and say “well, not really all of them were outstanding, but many were” and then a few seconds later he would stop again “well, perhaps not many, but a good quarter of this year’s group were good students.”

    Jerry was one of a kind. I will never forget him.

  11. Jerry altered my trajectory as a graduate student at the University of North Carolina during his year visiting there. He was so generous to me – offering me his time and understanding – that I can hardly put it into words. Over time, we became friends and had a lot of laughs together—grabbing a drink at this or that conference, and editing a book together. But I am reminded of a comment that the singer-songwriter Todd Snyder made on the death of his friend, the great John Prine. Snyder said that even though Prine did everything to put him at ease, he could never get over the fact that he was hanging out with John Prine, and so he was always a little on edge around him. Jerry, of course, did everything to put me at ease– and he was as down-to-earth as they come–but I never could get over the fact that I was hanging out with Jerry Gaus. He was brilliant and funny, and I was knew I was getting much more from our interactions than he was.

    Two of my favorite Jerry memories:
    1. At an APA in Atlanta (if memory serves), we were walking back to the hotel in the dark, and were caught out in a drizzling rain. Maybe it was because we were walking slowly in the rain, or maybe I was looking particularly disheveled (even worse than normal), or maybe Jerry’s long hair was looking more straggly than usual, but a passerby offered us some money.

    2. For my own benefit one time, at another conference, I tried to outline the key moves of his monumental The Order of Public Reason on a small hotel notepad paper, to run it by Jerry. I arrived at the bar and said: “Look, I think I’ve summarized all of OPR on this little piece of paper!” He could have punched me, but instead laughed and said with a sarcastic smile that maybe he should include it as an appendix to the second edition.

    I loved Jerry’s aversion to the self-important tendencies of some in our profession. This of course was also reflected in his aversion to claims to authority in his moral and political philosophy. (He used to tease me that my interpretation of John Stuart Mill was a merely “moderate authoritarianism”—he would always say it with a smile.) Jerry was remarkably patient and kind to his students, like me, and others who might not always get an equal hearing. It is hard to believe he is gone.

  12. I’ve had more than my fair share of interactions with Jerry over the years — in particular as a visitor at Arizona in Spring 2010. In 2012 Jerry came to the National University of Singapore, at our invitation, for a day-long seminar on The Order of Public Reason. It was great. At each session, one of us was responsible for introducing a chunk of the book, then Jerry would respond, followed by discussion. I took some delight in showing the group this clip from Curb Your Enthusiasm: https://youtu.be/bv_bEwfZM-M (the “Pig Parker” episode). I meant to illustrate potential strains on society associated with someone enforcing even publicly justified norms, which include being careful to stay between the lines and not to double-park. The Pig Parker responds that Larry should stay within the lines of his own business, but one of Jerry’s lessons is that this sort of transgression is the business of everyone. Therefore, I was a little surprised when Jerry took the side of the transgressor; i.e., that Larry was being an asshole. Talking this through later, over overpriced Singaporean cheeseburgers and IPAs, is my fondest memory of Jerry.

  13. Like many others, the shape of my life would be entirely different, and so much worse, without Jerry’s profound influence. His kindness and generosity to junior members of the profession is legendary, and I was one of its very lucky beneficiaries.

    I got to know Jerry when I was just a couple of years into my first job at the University of Manchester, about fifteen years ago. I invited him several times to come and give a talk or lecture at Manchester, and his answer was always an enthusiastic yes. There were, I think, two main reasons Jerry always accepted these invitations. First, he *loved* the chance to talk with graduate students, and Manchester was, and continues to be, a place with a thriving community of grad students doing political philosophy. One year, Jerry was the keynote speaker at Brave New World, the annual graduate student conference in political theory hosted at Manchester. Jerry had a particularly great time during that visit—attending as many of the talks by the students as he could. The second reason Jerry loved visiting Manchester was for its famous “curry mile”—the name for a long part of the Wilmslow Road beyond the university campus with a seemingly endless row of Indian and Pakistani restaurants. For me, an enduring and very happy set of memories involves Jerry drinking an IPA, tucking into a curry, and happily trying to persuade a group of students of some idea or perspective.

    I have lots of other happy memories of time spent talking over beers in different cities around the world. I’m enormously grateful for all that time, but it’s still very hard to accept that there is no more time with Jerry.

  14. It was late July in southern Utah. The sun was starting to go down over the steps, and horses and mules were starting to chew at their dinner while my dad and I got out our baseball gloves and a ball and started to play catch. We’d had a couple of days off, and neither of us were in the MVP race, so we started slow. Nonetheless, I threw in the dirt and my dad almost chucked a ball into the equines’ pasture. As the sun set, all you could hear were the sounds of the desert, the balls hitting our mitts, and our groans when we missed (badly).
    It was the day before I left to headed back to Boston, after spending about 2 COVID-inspired months at my parents’ place in Tucson. My parents accompanied me and my dogs on the first 8 hours of the drive, to a lovely equine sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. We spent two amazing nights there. We left our Kanab paradise in separate cars: my mom driving my dad (yes, that’s right, he never got his license!) and their four-month-old puppy, and me with my two dogs. I hugged my dad for the last time at a small gas station in Kanab, Utah.
    I won’t comment on my dad’s work, because others are far more qualified to do that. I wish I could give everyone an idea of what it was like growing up with Jerry Gaus, but he—and our life—was colorful, and I wouldn’t know where to begin. Yes, we had dinner debates about Newcomb’s paradox (sorry, Mom; thanks, Dad, for converting me to a definite two-boxer). But there was a decidedly less deep side to life with my dad, like when he and I were watching the NBA All-Star game in 2004 and he said, apropos of nothing, “What if I changed my professional name to Ice Fish?” Clearly, I never called him anything else after that day.
    Since I can’t do justice to his research or his personal life, I just wanted to speak to his teaching—an odd sentiment, since even when we were in the same department (I did my undergrad at Tulane while he was there), I never so much as sat in on a class with him. My dad viewed teaching not as a job, but as a privilege. The son of a pie deliverer, growing up in the suburbs of Buffalo, he was the product of public schools (Buffalo State, University of Buffalo, and Pittsburgh), and the lucky beneficiary of help from a couple of amazing mentors: John Chapman, at Pitt, and later Stanley Benn, at the ANU. Even as he became very successful, he felt like he and my mom were “a couple of kids from Buffalo” who got pretty lucky, and he wanted to pass that luck on. For any student who would work hard, he had time. I think that created pretty deep bonds with many of his students, and I know this has been a really hard time for them. I don’t have anything really adequate to say to them, either, but I’ll say this anyway: my dad always believed in yall as philosophers, and cared about yall as people. I know he could be a hard ass, but he did it for you. He’d be beating himself up for leaving yall like this, but he sure wouldn’t want yall to be sad. For those inclined, drink an extra IPA for him. For those not inclined, buy one for someone who is.
    Bye, Ice Fish. You had good innings.

  15. So, I visited Arizona in spring semester 2018, and I want to echo Ryan’s and Piers’s comment that Jerry was always a lot nicer and more generous with his time than he had to be, especially to irritating graduate students.
    Jerry also pretty profoundly influenced how I think about political philosophy. But I want to note his talent for building intellectual community. I’ve never felt as intellectually at home as I did during my spring in the desert and I suspect that most of the things I’ll work on for the next decade will, in some way or another, trace back to post-workshop beers at Gentle Ben’s with him and the rest of his students.
    Gonna miss you Jerry.

  16. I remember pacing the streets of Tokyo at 4 o’clock in the morning. Wandering through the neighborhood of Kagurazaka, having a pizzaman and an Asahi or two. Next week, I would finally meet Jerry Gaus and spent four months in Tucson, Arizona. I wanted to apply the Hayekian idea of competition as a discovery procedure to political philosophy, arguing in a nutshell that the institutions of a just society can only be found via some form of institutional competition and not through any kind of armchair theorizing. But I had no idea of how to put all of that into words. My head was buzzing. It was 2014. When I came across Jerry’s The Order of Public Reason a year earlier, it became clear to me that if I were ever to pull off my project, I had to talk to Jerry.

    The next evening, I was sitting in the crowded subway to Narita airport, still thinking about how to present my project to Jerry in such a way that I would not make a total fool out of myself. Twenty-odd hours later, I arrived at Tucson “international” airport. Instead of skyscrapers, neon signs and busy salaryman, a motley bunch of cactuses greeted me. Between the cactuses, a friendly face emerged, Fabian Wendt picked me up and introduced me to Red Hook. Still one of my favorite beers.

    Eventually, a few days in, I knocked on Jerry’s door. I was very nervous, introducing my half-baked ideas about justice and discovery procedures in broken English. Jerry probed into my ideas for a good hour before he eventually asked me whether I like to drink beer. I said: yes. And he said: “well, then let’s meet for a beer every week or so to discuss philosophy during your stay with us.” I come from a research culture where the advisor-student relationship is, let’s say, rather loose. It was just unfathomable to me that Professor Gaus – a titan of philosophy – would consider taking out so much time for some random philosophy student from a ‘no-name’ university in Germany.

    Jerry’s initial kindness should extend over the next years, whenever I wrote him an email, he would reply within hours in the most lighthearted way. Even when I asked him whether he would write a short bit for the back cover of the book that grew out of my dissertation – Political Pluralism, Disagreement and Justice: The Case for Polycentric Democracy – he agreed immediately and wrote a way too generous endorsement. That’s the way I knew Jerry Gaus.

    Cheers, Jerry! I will be forever grateful!

  17. I last saw Jerry in early January. We invited him out to Warwick to give a talk for our weekly moral and political philosophy colloquium. Jerry and I decided to grab some beers and catch up the day before the talk. Seeing him walk into my office was a surreal experience. After walking into his office so many times to talk about public reason, democracy, the evolution of moral norms, and everything else, it was quite strange to have him walk into my office. I pointed out the corner of my shelf where I keep his books. He made some self-deprecating quip that I wish I could remember. We took a taxi to Leamington Spa where we walked around the parks for a bit before meeting up with Fabienne Peter at a pub. We eventually decided to try the food. It was a bad decision–the food was absolutely terrible. Jerry continued to gently make fun of me over the next couple of days for taking him to a pub with such horrible food. We all talked about the papers we were working on and it was typical Jerry–gracious, uncompromising in his high standards, and keenly aware of the complexities of human social life. Jerry gave his talk the next day and we took him to an Indian restaurant afterwards. I was relieved that he liked the food. I’m very grateful to have known him.

  18. A few memories of Jerry stand out that I would like to share.

    It is my first meeting in Jerry’s office hours. Jerry calls me a Platonist, and I take offense. Jerry laughs. Many of his best friends are Platonists, he says—but do I also still believe in Santa Claus? (Jerry loved to poke fun at views he disagreed with. But it was always in jest, and he cringed when others piled on without the same good spirit. As he put it in a recent paper, “we are dealing with deep and complicated matters; disagreement between traditions is rarely the result of the ‘hopeless’ confusion of one. Rather, theorists in different traditions tend to see different problems as salient, interpret facts in different ways, and even disagree about principles of good philosophical reasoning. If we can explore these differences, we begin to understand why they so deeply disagree.”)

    Jerry and I are at the same conference. After the keynote, he suggests we break away from the group and get a beer; “nobody here wants to talk to me,” he pretends. Over IPAs, Jerry asks me what I plan to write my dissertation on, and whether I’d like to write it under him. I say that I do want to work with him, but that I can’t decide between a few topics. Jerry tells me he would happily oversee any of these projects, because, he says, “you are good at so much.” It is the best moment of my young philosophical career. (All of Jerry’s students have similar stories. He was very encouraging, making even early graduate students feel special, like equal members of the profession. He would hold our work to the same standards as everyone else, and this would sometimes result in harsh comments on papers. But this only made his praise—which he would also dole out generously, especially when he sensed insecurity—all the more meaningful.)

    I am done with coursework and still struggling to pick a dissertation topic. I am in a rut. I can’t manage to write anything and don’t talk to anyone about my work for many months. Jerry persistently emails me, checking in, and when I finally admit what is going on, he suggests that we begin meeting regularly in person. We do, and within a couple meetings I am out of my rut, furiously writing up my dissertation prospectus. (I have no idea how Jerry found the time to support all of us. Jerry read everything I wrote and met with me often, and he did the same for so many others. Jerry taught more seminars than he needed to, and would give copious comments on every student paper. Yet he still, somehow, remained incredibly productive, getting his own paper out of nearly every seminar he taught. “Here’s my term paper,” he would say, “where is yours?”)

    For the first time in countless meetings, I criticize a claim of Jerry’s and he immediately concedes the point. Startled, I misspeak, suggesting that I have never seen him change his mind. This time, Jerry takes offense, and begins to list occasions I have been party to a discussion that has affected his thinking. I am floored. Until then, I had assumed I was a parasite, but Jerry was constantly learning, and keeping track of what he was learning, from everyone around him. (An underrated characteristic of Jerry was his open-mindedness and willingness to change his view. He would sometimes provide a devastating objection to a position, only to add, self-deprecatingly, that he himself held that view for many years. I once witnessed someone tell Jerry that they greatly admired some of his earlier work, only for Jerry to reply, “really? that stuff is pretty wacky.”)

    I meet with Jerry, excited about being offered a post-doc, and try to buy his beer for a change. He tells me that he’ll maybe let me buy a round once I accept an offer, but until then, the beer will remain on him. When I do accept, we set up a meeting, but this is in March, right before covid changes everything, and we have to cancel. I never get a chance to buy him the beer, or to begin to repay my many others debts.

  19. I first introduced myself to Jerry at a conference in Ottawa in 2016, and little did I know at the time, how much that meeting would change my life. That first meeting ended with Jerry encouraging me to come work with him in Tucson, and while I was there he took me in and treated me like one of his own students.

    While there are many stories to share about Jerry, all of them centre around his kindness and generosity. Jerry would spend countless hours talking about philosophy, helping me working through an argument, providing exacting comments on paper drafts, and even after a three hours seminar, he would still be eager and willing to continue the discussion over a couple IPAs. I do not think I ever considered myself worthy of all the time and attention that Jerry showed me, but I will forever grateful. The time I got to spend working with Jerry fundamentally reshaped my philosophical outlook and set me on the path that I find myself today.

    Mixed in with all that kindness and generosity was also a wry sense of humour. Perhaps some of my fondness memories of working with Jerry were him teasing me (or egging on others to tease me) for my encyclopedic knowledge of Rawls. Behind his sharp criticisms of Rawls in his work, I also go to know Jerry as a deep admirer of Rawls, and I always knew that behind the razing was a shared admiration of philosophy, and what political philosophy could be in deeply diverse societies.

    It was a privilege to consider Jerry my teacher, my mentor, and my friend. I really miss you Jerry, and it is really saddening to have our conversation cut short.

  20. I have known Jerry for 23 years. He was a wonderful philosopher with a very distinctive and original voice in modern political philosophy. He was a brilliant and challenging presence in every intellectual event he participated in. His work played a very significant role in bringing together philosophy and the social sciences in a highly productive interchange. We had many splendid conversations in which I learned an immense amount. Of course, with Jerry, one learned a huge amount just in preparing to engage in discussion with him. He made you smarter when he was around or when you thought he was going to be around.
    I know he was a fantastic teacher to his students. I saw them grow and flourish under his guidance. He was extremely generous with his time and energy and with his support for his students. He made a stunning contribution to the graduate program in philosophy at the University of Arizona.
    Jerry was also an extremely prolific institution builder. To name just a few things, he started the journal Politics, Philosophy and Economics in 2000. He played a central role in starting the Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Law undergraduate program at the University of Arizona. This is one of the best undergraduate programs I have seen in my more than 30 years of experience in teaching. He was a founding member of the PPE Society. He was one of the principal creators of the Political Economy and Moral Sciences Department at the University of Arizona and has been its guiding light in its first few years. He has made the University of Arizona a much better place and has greatly enhanced the philosophy profession of which we are members.
    Most of all, I will miss him very much. He was a friend, an inspiration, a great intellectual and a benefactor to us all.

  21. There are many things I never conveyed to Jerry. I wanted to tell him that my greatest aspiration is to write a paper as good as “The Place of Autonomy in Liberalism.” I wanted to tell him that his seminars—one on public reason, the other on complexity—had fundamentally altered the way I view morality, justice, society, and philosophy. I really wanted to tell him that I thought his Hawaiian shirt and silver hair ensemble was a very cool look. I never said any of these things to Jerry, because I didn’t want him to think I was kiss-ass. At least now I can state them publicly, and my sincerity won’t be doubted.

    I will never forget Jerry’s first comment on the first paper I ever submitted to him. This comment was my first glimpse of Jerry’s famously constructive feedback: “I don’t know why people write papers like this.”

    Ok, to be fair, that was just the beginning. He proceeded to demolish my arguments, highlighting throughout the ways in which I had willingly treated the text uncharitably, how I had ignored crucial arguments and concepts, how my simplifications of other views had distorted them into caricatures. Most importantly, he told me exactly what I would need to do to make it a paper worth reading.

    I think this vignette captures what so many others have said: Jerry was brutally honest, exacting in his standards, sometimes even harsh — but always with an eye towards helping his students to improve themselves. He never half-assed it. And he didn’t let his students get away with that either. What more could you want from a mentor?

  22. I shared this story on Facebook a few days ago, but thought I would repost it here for the benefit of folks I don’t already know.

    As many people know, after I finished my philosophy course work at Arizona I took a leave of absence to study economics at Rutgers. A year or so into that program I had become a bit disillusioned with the choice I made. I took the leave because I was confident that I needed the formal training in economics to really explore the kinds of questions I was interested in. But I had a harder time than I had anticipated finding economists interested in talking to me about the kinds of questions I was interested in at the time. So I was intellectually lonely. Around that time Jerry got in touch with me to tell me that he had been invited to give a talk to the politics department at Princeton and I arranged to go. He gave a pretty technical talk on the costs and benefits of moral diversity that seemed an odd fit for the Princeton crowd. Afterwards over beers I said something to that effect to Jerry, and only then did he tell me that he had scrapped the talk he had originally planned to give once he knew I would be there. We shared a laugh about the relative merits of the Arizona and Princeton approaches to political philosophy. But if I’m being honest I was more than a little stunned, and wasn’t sure he had made a good decision. It ended up being exactly the spark I needed to get out of my rut though.

    Later that night we sat next to each other at dinner, and having spent the last 6 months struggling through a course on real analysis and topology I proceeded to do my best to explain to Jerry how we could develop a formal model that might do a better job of illustrating how the very same features of diversity that generate its benefits also introduce some hard constraints. After about an hour we eventually had a model sketched out on the back of napkin, and it was about that time that I remember Philip Pettit butting in with a quip about two Arizona philosophers having to travel all the way to Princeton to talk to each other. For those that don’t know, Princeton Political Philosophy Colloquia are typically followed by a roundtable discussion that takes place over dinner, and Jerry and I highjacked the discussion that night. I’m forever grateful to Philip for indulging us, but, more importantly, to Jerry for believing enough in me to think that that conversation was worth whatever feathers he ruffled that day. Rest in peace Jerry. I’ll miss you.

  23. Like others I was deeply shocked and saddened at the news of Jerry’s death. I may have first met Jerry at the 1992 Natural Rights conference that Eric Mack mentioned (above), or another extravagantly catered conference by Liberty Fund or others, around then.

    Like me, Jerry believed in a natural duty to take full advantage of extravagant catering. What the Lord provideth…

    My conversations with him back then were exactly as others have described: I was enthralled by his intelligence, enthusiasm, good humor, wit, and utter lack of pretension. He was always draped in some combination of purple, gray, and big flowers. There was no one with whom it was more fun to knock back a few. And I learned a lot from talking to him, about Justificatory Liberalism, and other matters. Never were IPA’s put to better use!

    I was also struck by Eric Mack’s comment, early in this thread, that Jerry thought there was something “authoritarian (or even tyrannical) about even the libertarian versions of the traditional enterprise” of political philosophy: trying to identify the “most justified type of political (or anti-political) order.” I guess I agree with Eric on the mission statement. I think Jerry came to disapprove of those of us who took a more Rawlsian (political) turn. I recall him saying at an event at LSE about 10 years ago (organized by Chandran Kukathas, and I think Jon Quong was there) that he (Jerry) didn’t really didn’t see his work as political. Well, Jerry is not here to argue back, so I won’t press my disagreement on that score.

    Instead I will recall the best retort that I have ever witnessed at an academic panel. The biggest laugh Jerry has left me with. It was around 1993, and we were on an American Political Science Association panel with some others (I can’t at the moment remember who!). I must have organized it because Judith Shklar, who was my colleague at the time and also APSA President, told me she wanted to be the commentator.

    OK. An offer you can’t refuse. For sure I hesitated: it wasn’t exactly her thing. And she did sometimes have a way – in spite of her amazing intelligence, concern, and genuine kindness — of being way over-the-top when acting as a critic. She was a wonderful person, but she could really light into people in a way that was startling. She would knock people into serious “disequilibrium,” and then be all smiles and warmth thereafter.

    OK. It was what it was. So we gave our paper presentations. Nothing crazy. But boy, did she light into us. Not the worst I ever saw, but we represented, she said, everything that was wrong with contemporary political theory. It was not clear how her comments connected to what we had written or said. But that’s how these things go some times.

    So, it’s our chance to respond, and of course I hemmed and hawed: Prof. Shklar was my senior colleague, etc.

    When it was Jerry’s turn he said: “I feel like the waiter at a French restaurant, who asks the customer, ‘How do you like the wine?’ Only to have the customer pour the whole bottle of wine over his head.”
    “Well,” he said, “I know she doesn’t like the wine. But I have no idea why.”

    Jerry brought the house down. It was the perfect comment, perfectly delivered. Prof. Shklar was grinding an axe that really had nothing to do with us. It was a great comment. Maybe you had to be there, but I still laugh every time I think about it. She laughed herself.

    Jerry was so genuine. But also so often on the mark. And he cared so much about his students. And they about him, as is so evident from this thread, and also the really nice event that Phil Smolenski and others of Jerry’s students organized in May 2019, with Sam Freeman and myself, representing the forces of … well, I won’t say it. 

    Seriously: you all are his legacy. A legacy to be very, very proud of!

  24. I contacted Jerry as a random stranger from Germany, when I was working on a critical paper, later published in PPE, about his ideas on the institutional design of democracy. He responded ever so kindly, and a bit later, in 2011, I was lucky to discuss with him in person at a little conference in Darmstadt. Ending my presentation, I intended to say that I had essentially tried to defend the early Gaus of a 1991-paper in Constitutional Political Economy against the later Gaus, but ended up saying “old” instead of “early”. Jerry chuckled and began his response by thanking me for suggesting that the 1991-Gaus was the “old” Gaus. Being a huge admirer his work, I’m grateful I got to know him a little over drinks and dinner. Cheers, Jerry.

  25. A couple of weeks ago I was exchanging messages with Jerry regarding a new project: ‘…putting together a group exploring the philosophy, theory, and institutional analysis and design of “modus vivendi” governance arrangements, which support the conditions for “live and let live” social order, in circumstances of deep pluralism, tensions and social cleavages…An effort to link the political theories of “modus vivendi” to the governance theories based on institutional diversity and polycentricism and thus, create the conceptual and analytical resources for applied level insights.’ As usual, he was critical.

    Here is the gist of it, though there is more: “I’d like to say I’m ambivalent to modus vivendi, but I’m actually pretty hostile. I’ve just finished a book, in which the basis of the open society is normative guidance (here I’m with Hayek). I believe the idea that we can exist simply via an equilibrium of interests is a dangerous illusion. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I don’t have anything to say about modus vivendi, but I am not a sympathetic interlocutor…”

    Having said that, Jerry decided to join… At that point, I knew that something interesting was going to happen in the province of modus vivendi theorizing… I had the same feeling that many of us had, in other similar circumstances, when working with Jerry: “What is he up to now? What is he going to come up with, in THIS case? Where is he taking all this?” That was Jerry, as I knew him: A fascinating intellectual challenge and, in the end, an unsettled, always self-renewing enigma…

    To say that he will be missed in the modus vivendi project and the many other intellectual endeavors in which he deemed to establish himself as a major presence, is an understatement… But the reason I mentioned our last conversation and project was not just to note such an obvious, to all of us, fact. The reason was to note his open-ended challenge and legacy to us. For all of us, who knew him and his formidable mind, we will be left for the rest of our intellectual lives under his spell. All of us have a theme, a question, and a project similar to the “modus vivendi” one, which stands, in my story, as a token for them all. And all of us are left now with a riddle: “What would Jerry have been up to, in THIS case? Where would he have taken all this? And this is by itself, indeed, a formidable intellectual legacy….

  26. I can’t believe I’m old enough to say that I have known Jerry Gaus for 20 years! I started working with him as a grad student at Tulane in 2000. While most of Jerry’s students and mentees are men, I am one of the few women that studied with him, and I absolutely adored Jerry. I did not know it at the time, but the mentoring I received from Jerry was atypical for the profession of Philosophy, where many women had absolutely horrible experiences with their male mentors. In those days, there was no mention of the fact that men far outnumbered women in Philosophy; no efforts were made to recruit and retain women; there was no Gendered Conference Campaign; there were no special mentoring programs for women in Philosophy, and no recognition that women’s experiences in the discipline of Philosophy were abominable. But Jerry made me feel right at home. Were it not for Jerry, my fate might have been very different.

    Jerry was the best mentor imaginable, where he introduced me to awesome philosophers as they visited New Orleans, and gave me copious amounts of feedback on my dissertation chapters. He told me to study feminist philosophy, especially care ethics and Susan Okin, so I wrote a chapter on this in my dissertation! At the time, feminist philosophy was largely sidelined, but he believed it had value and encouraged me to read it, even though it was not his area of specialization. Jerry saved my life and career after Hurricane Katrina hit. After Tulane closed, he invited me to come to Chapel Hill for the year, where he was on sabbatical, and we had coffee, worked on the PPE journal, and talked philosophy every single week. (Geoff Sayre-McCord is also the hero here!)

    The thing I’ll remember most about Jerry is how much FUN I had with him! No doubt he would laugh to hear me say this, since he always accused me of being a hedonist — “not philosophically, but in real life.” 😂 We were always cracking dumb jokes, making puns, or poking fun at various philosophical views. Our evening seminars were a blast. Others have commented on how he was a good friend, and the same is true for me. He came to my grad student parties, and I went to his family’s house for dinner. (I never succeeded in getting him to come see me sing in my country band, he did have limits!) Jerry knew what mattered in life and was always human and compassionate. He had no time for stuffiness or pretense, and befriended people like me who were not philosophical stars. We in philosophy have lost a wonderful human being and I will miss him dearly.

  27. I first met Jerry in 1980 when he was a postdoc at ANU and I was an MA student working on Hume. Stanley Benn had agreed to read some chapters and while we were chatting in the Fellows Garden Jerry turned up. I knew who he was from his booming voice at the History of Ideas seminars. I reminded him of this when we next met in the early nineties but he didn’t recall it. Still, I feel like I’ve known him for 40 years. After finishing my DPhil I returned to a job at ANU and moved into a rented university property in Jacka Crescent, Canberra. The previous tenants—Jerry, Andrea and Kelly Gaus—had just vacated it to move to Brisbane. Maybe this was the first of many favours I received from Jerry!

    I got to know him properly as the result of a letter I received out of the blue. Jerry had been interviewed and turned down for a chair at ANU but wrote to me expressing his astonishment that I had not been shortlisted! “This is probably inappropriate”, he wrote, “but I’m going to say it anyway…”! I was less surprised not to be shortlisted than that Jerry did not get the job. We did meet not long after, first in the US and then when Jerry moved to take a chair at the Queensland University of Technology. Despite a poor earlier experience the University of Queensland after leaving ANU (on reporting to the Head of the Department that he was teaching almost twice as much as everyone else, Jerry told me, he got the response: “well, I guess you get the asshole of the year award”), he loved Brisbane and was also enthused about the prospect of building a department. As others have noted, Jerry was a builder, and at QUT he put his energy into running conferences and workshops and bringing in people to start philosophical conversations and create a community of scholars. He left to return to Duluth only because the money he had been promised for recruitment turned out not to be available after all.
    Philosophy as a profession being what it is, Jerry, like many of us, moved more often than he expected. But few people in any profession can have relocated across the Pacific as often as he did. When he first came to Australia in 1979, a move to Canberra was to most American academics just unfathomable. As Jerry told it, everyone he knew thought it was a mad idea and a sad fate for a smart guy. But it was also quite a step for a couple from Buffalo. Jerry recounted Andrea looking out of the window of the airplane as it commenced its descent into Canberra and saying: “well, this was a mistake”. It didn’t help that everything felt unfamiliar—even the beef, which was grass-fed and just didn’t taste right! Still, the Gauses did get used to Australia and must even have developed an affection for the place given the number of times they moved there. If I remember correctly, Jerry left this ANU postdoc for a short-term job at Wake Forrest, but returned a year later as a research fellow. Then the move to the University of Queensland, and from there across the Pacific again to Duluth, and then back to Queensland again at QUT before moving back to Duluth. Every time the Gauses moved, all the electrical goods had to be sold or disposed of and new ones acquired. Houses were bought and sold. And coins! The last time they moved across the ocean, Jerry told me, they gathered all the small change they had accumulated in the house in a large bag but were too exhausted to go to the bank and ended up dropping it in a dumpster before heading to the airport! At times, Jerry’s life sounded like a carnival of errors. I suspect that he exaggerated a bit for effect. Maybe it’s because, in my experience at least, he never, ever, moaned about his lot.
    Some of his funniest stories were about his experiences as a job candidate. When I asked him for advice on preparing for an interview he gave me a long list of things not to do, drawn from his rich history. One piece of advice: don’t fall asleep during your job talk! Jerry had been kept up late into the night by a hospitable department and he was exhausted from too little sleep when he was up to present. “I remember thinking that someone should be talking, and then realizing it was me,” Jerry told me. Another bit of advice: don’t tell the guy who might hire you he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Jerry had been asked during an interview how he would teach a particular subject. “I said, well, there’s a right way and a wrong way, and the wrong way is to do X,” Jerry recalled, “only the head of department interviewing me said he did it the wrong way”. At this point Jerry would usually quote his favourite line from Wallace and Gromit: “well, that went about as well as could be expected”. One piece of advice he could never take: put the last question from the audience out of your mind. If a question bothered him, he told me, he struggled to focus on the next ones. Even if he’d given as thoughtful an answer as he could. I always thought it was a measure of his intellectual seriousness. He did not care about winning an argument, only about the question.
    After a second stint at Duluth came Tulane. Jerry invited me to visit for six weeks and co-teach a grad seminar with him. I came with my family and we stayed in the other half of the Gaus’s shotgun house in the French Quarter. Jerry would not take a penny in rent for what was in fact a full-sized apartment. After I moved to LSE Jerry stayed with me regularly on his visits to the UK—including when he came to give the Brian Barry lecture and to participate in a mini-conference we had on The Order of Public Reason, one of his many great books. He teased me about how letting me stay in his house left me with a debt I couldn’t repay! I always wished he could stay longer. He probably would have had Andrea been there.
    We had many wonderful conversations, often late into the night, and more than a few of them about his growing preoccupation with diversity. He insisted on referring on my own contribution to the subject, The Liberal Archipelago, as “the liberal gulag”! We were on different sides of the debate, with me sceptical of justice and he wary about too much toleration: “I worry about the peasants!”, he joked. A few years ago he said he was moving a bit closer to my view, though I just how much closer I guess I will have to find out from his next book.
    Like everyone on this thread, I am heartbroken that Jerry is no longer with us. Could anyone be a better teacher, colleague or friend? Could anyone be more fun?

  28. Unlike most of the other folks posting comments on this page, I knew Professor Gaus only as a teacher, and only for the few years I studied PPEL as an undergraduate at the University of Arizona. In truth, I’m not sure I even deserve to leave a comment about him; I was a rather poor student and am now in a career utterly divorced from philosophy, politics, or economics. We were not close, I never really interacted with him much one-on-one, and I can’t imagine that I left much of an impression on him. Despite all this, Gaus was my favorite teacher, ever. His balance of insight and humor could make a 2.5 hour class fly by. One could always tell how much he cared about what he did, and it inspired passion in his students.
    On more than one occasion, his were the only lectures I’d attend during an entire week. As embarrassing as that is to write, I think it goes to show how meaningful his lessons were to me. I often thought about treating him to a pizza from Rocco’s, were I to visit Tucson again. I am profoundly sad that I don’t get to repay him for what he taught me about the world.
    I know I speak for many people when I say that even those of us who didn’t have a long, fruitful relationship with Jerry Gaus were honored to have known him.

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