One of the notions that Rawls presents in his works is that of "overlapping consensus". The idea is that a conception of the political order should be able to be defended from a variety of philosophical or ideological points of view in order to make it stable. An idea of justice shouldn't be only defensible from a given closed ideological package. Rawls himself, however, only tried to argue that his conception of the political order could also be endorsed by utilitarians. It occurred to me to try to apply Rawls' idea of overlapping consensus to liberalism*. Here we have a list of academic philosophers or economists who defend more or less liberal conceptions of justice from a variety of points of view. Some philosophical positions are endorsed by more than one thinker, but even then, each one have their nuances. I've marked with (?) those positions that I'm not sure about.

  1. Roderick Long: Virtue Ethics
  2. Dougs Den Uyl y Rasmussen: Virtue Ethics
  3. Eric Mack: Natural Rights
  4. Michael Huemer: Ethical Intuitionism
  5. David Schmidtz: Rossean Pluralism
  6. Jan Narveson:  (Hobbesian) Contractarianism
  7. Gerald Gaus: Contractualism
  8. Loren Lomasky: (Project) Contractarianism
  9. Jason Brennan: Rossean Pluralism
  10. Matt Zwolinski: Rossean Pluralism (?)
  11. Robert Nozick: Natural Rights
  12. John Tomasi: (Rawlsian) Contractualism
  13. Anthony de Jasay: (Humean) Conventionalism
  14. David Friedman: Consequentialism (?)
  15. Richard Epstein: Consequentialism
  16. David Gauthier: (NeoHobbesian) Contractarianism
  17. James Buchanan:  (NeoHobbesian) Contractarianism, Public Choice
  18. Randy Barnett: Natural Rights
  19. Peter Boettke: Rule Utilitarianism
  20. William Irwin: Existentialism, Moral-Non Realism
  21. Larry Arnhart: Evolutionary theory


  • Virtue Ethics: 2
  • Natural Rights: 3
  • Rossean Pluralism and Ethical Intuitionism: 4
  • Consequentialism and Rule Utilitarianism: 3
  • Contractarianism: 4
  • Contractualism: 2
  • Conventionalism: 1
  • Existentialism: 1
  • Evolutionary theory: 1

*Understanding it as classical liberalism and its political surroundings

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