Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Jonathan Garthoff

Committee Members

David A. Reidy, Adam Cureton, Nathan Kelly


Stability and resilience are complementary attributes in John Rawls’s most developed liberal system. In his early theory, stable cooperation is guaranteed by liberal society’s single, shared conception of justice. Rawls’s more pluralist theory introduces a possibility of cooperation without a consensus about justice, but it does not explain stable cooperation. If citizens are committed to a family of reasonable, liberal conceptions of justice, a pluralist liberal system can be stable because it is also resilient. Though pluralism increases discord in dynamic conditions, citizens can appeal to a shared family of ideals to adapt and restore allegiance. This adaptive capacity is the liberal system’s form of resilience. In disrupting times, liberal resilience restores commitment to some view of justice recognized in the political culture. In a pluralist Rawlsian liberal system, resilience is the attribute—and the unnamed virtue—that secures a stable and just liberal order.

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