Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Andrew Altman - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Andrew I. Cohen - Committee Member

Third Advisor

Christie Hartley - Committee Member


Recent changes in the politics of gay rights have led to a gay rights demand for liberal governments: i) decriminalization of sodomy and ii) full governmental recognition of civil, same-sex marriages. Challengers to liberalism argue that a neutral liberalism cannot satisfy the gay rights demand. I argue that the liberal political framework put forth by Ronald Dworkin can adequately fulfill the gay rights demand. Dworkinian liberalism, which is neutral with respect to the ethical life, need not be neutral with respect to moral and non-ethical values. I argue for the more modest claim that Dworkinian liberalism has the conceptual tools and principles for satisfying the gay rights demand. In arguing for my claim, I discuss the internal criticisms of Carlos Ball and Michael Sandel and the external criticism of John Finnis. I argue that these concerns are surmountable. Dworkinian liberalism is capable of offering a robust defense of same-sex relations.

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