Dynamic Ideal Theory

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0002-5009-0556
Carroll, Jeffrey, Philosophy - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Simmons, A. John, Philosophy, University of Virginia

The dissertation makes the case for ideal theory, albeit a novel kind from that often found in the literature. I argue that a static version of ideal theorizing will not do. The reasons range from issues having to do with the epistemic limitations of human theorists to the fact that the social world is perpetually changing. A dynamic ideal theory is needed.

In Chapter 1, I identify a tension present in the mainstream version of ideal theory and put forth a way forward which I call dynamic ideal theory. In Chapter 2, I respond to critics who think that ideal theory is a dead research program and show that dynamic ideal theory is a live and promising alternative. In Chapter 3, I focus on a particular ideal theoretic assumption - strict compliance - and show how it can fit within a dynamic framework. Finally, in Chapter 4, I consider whether a state can be justified under different ideal theoretic assumptions, including strict compliance. I demonstrate that the ideal political institutions are ultimately a function of how ideal agents are modeled.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Justice, Ideal Theory, Methodology of Political Philosophy, John Rawls, A. John Simmons, Strict Compliance
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