Gerald Postema, born in Chicago, Illinois, USA, in 1948. Ph.D. from Cornell University, Ithaca. Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Fellow (1 September 1996 – 30 June 1997)
I set out to articulate and defend a theory of public practical reasoning in morality, politics, and law. My research moved in two directions: on the one hand, I explored certain issues foundational to an understanding of practical reasoning, drawing on and critically assessing work in game theory, decision theory, developmental psychology, and the philosophy of mind, and on the other hand, I explored applications of these ideas to issues in the theory of legal reasoning. Work in the former area issued in essays on backward induction and first personal plural practical reasoning, and five essays on the psychological roots of intersubjectivity and the nature of sympathy and empathy and their role in moral reasoning.
In legal theory, I wrote “Conventions at the foundations of law” on the nature and evolution of conventions and their centrality to law, and “Integrity: justice in workclothes” on the role of notions of justice and fidelity in legal reasoning. I also sketched essays defending a new conventionalist theory of law and on the nature and on the role of reasoning by analogy in law.
In addition to this on my main project, I wrote “The Sins of Segregation” and edited a related volume of invited essays (Racism and the Law), assessing the legacy and lessons of Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896), which upheld the practice of racial segregation in the United States.