Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Andrew Altman - Chair

Second Advisor

Christie Hartley

Third Advisor

Peter Lindsay


What I dub the “worst-result” principle is a criterion that identifies civil war and tyranny as the worst evils that could befall a state, and prescribes their prevention. In this thesis, I attempt to define the worst-result principle’s concrete prescriptions and institutional arrangements to meet these. To do so, I explore different understandings of the worst-result principle, that each contributes to the general argument. Montesquieu’s crucial insight concerns the separation of powers to prevent the state from collapsing into despotism. Judith Shklar shows that ‘damage control’ needs to be constantly performed so as to minimize chances of governmental brutality. Roberto Unger points at the importance of encouraging citizens’ involvement in the political process to safeguard freedom. I finally argue, in the light of historical evidence, that it would be unreasonable to think that the task of preventing tyranny can be effectively performed in the absence of courts entrusted with checking powers.

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Philosophy Commons