Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Thomas Nenon

Committee Member

Mary Beth Mader

Committee Member

Susan Nordstrom

Committee Member

Michael Monahan


In A Theory of Justice, John Rawls tells us that an important element of any political theory of justice is its capacity to generate its own support. That is to say that the principles of justice theorized by political philosophers, when adopted by a society, ought to inspire individuals to act in accordance with them. A theory of justice whose principles does not generate its own support would be, in this sense, unstable and as a result, rejected by rational liberal standards. In this dissertation, I criticize the stability of Rawlsian liberal theory by first showing its reliance on the deficiency conception of childhood, and second, rejecting this view of childhood as empirically ungrounded and epistemologically narrow in scope. By the end, this dissertation concludes that liberal philosophy is either unstable and therefore illegitimate by its own standards, or needs to rethink the political status of childrena task which seems impossible given liberalisms own commitment to mature rationality.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest