Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Christie J. Hartley

Second Advisor

William A. Edmundson

Third Advisor

Andrew J. Cohen


John Rawls’s shift from A Theory of Justice to Political Liberalism was prompted by his dissatisfaction with Theory’s account of stability. Rawls’s later account of stability places the idea of public reason at its center. On one influential reading, Rawls models stability as a mutual assurance game, wherein stability is provided by assurance of commitment to the shared conception of justice. In recent years, a growing number of convergence theorists have argued that Rawls’s assurance mechanism, in the form of public reason, fails in societies characterized by pervasive disagreement. These theorists propose convergence as offering superior assurance. This thesis argues that the stability convergence offers is fragile due to the very pluralism with which convergence theorists are rightly concerned. Moreover, convergence does not do well at explaining why citizens, understood as politically free and equal, wish to cooperate on fair terms.