Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Andrew J. Cohen

Second Advisor

Dr. Christie Hartley


Kevin Vallier defends a theory of the normative limits of the use of coercion by the state known as convergence liberalism. Central to this theory is a principle of public justification according to which the coercive power of the state is justified and legitimate if and only if each member of the public has sufficient reason to endorse the coercion. I argue that this principle is too demanding. Certain epistemological limitations render cost-benefit analyses of many, if not all, laws and policies inconclusive. This, together with the fact of evaluative pluralism, make it the case that very few coercive laws and regulations will be publicly justified. The result is that convergence liberalism threatens to obstruct the state’s capacity to protect the environment and address preventable forms of injustice.

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