Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Peter Lindsay - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Christie Hartley

Third Advisor

Dr. Tim O'Keefe


I analyze the potentially self-destructive tension inherent in liberalism between conceptions of negative liberty and positive liberty. In doing so, I utilize Aristotle’s theory of virtue to show that virtue is the best method of resolving this tension. In addition, I demonstrate that liberal virtues are best construed as virtues of intellect to be exercised in the public sphere. In particular, I show the importance of not construing liberal virtues as virtues of character (often referred to as moral virtues), because advocating such virtues is, in fact, contrary to the central tenets of liberalism. That is, I argue that it is illiberal to ask liberal citizens to develop a certain moral character, and that it is, instead, essential for said citizens to develop intellectual virtues as a method of resolving this tension within liberalism between the virtues needed to sustain liberalism and liberalism’s resistance towards promoting those virtues.

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