Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Peter Lindsay

Second Advisor

Sebastian Rand

Third Advisor

Andrew Altman


This paper takes issue with the methodological framework and practices of nonideal theory. I argue that nonideal theory, while attempting to offer a substantive alternative to ideal theory, fails to deliver on its promises insofar as it takes a juridical view of society. The juridical view involves the overwhelming dependence on, employment of, and requirements of, the concept of justice. I contend that nonideal theory should instead adopt a more Marxian approach to social and political philosophy which involves, inter alia, viewing society as an interworking and interdependent totality of needs, production relations, and ideas. Finally, I argue that the juridical view is misguided and, as a result, that nonideal theory, to the extent that it wants to distinguish itself from the dominance of ideal theory, should abandon the discourse of justice altogether.