Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Christie Hartley

Second Advisor

Andrew J. Cohen

Third Advisor

Andrew I. Cohen

Fourth Advisor

William Edmundson


On one understanding of ideal theory, the optimally just social world is specified at the outset to serve as the target for nonideal theory to strive to realize subject to the constraints of implementation imposed by a world of nonideal actors. In the spirit of recent work by Gerald Gaus and Keith Hankins, I argue that certain models of the path to the target prove inadequate because they are too simplistic. Figuring out both what the target is and how to get there is a much more difficult task than defenders of the target view suggest. Contra Gaus and Hankins, I believe the problem disagreement poses to ideal targets is uniquely epistemic.