Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. William A. Ritchie

Second Advisor

Dr. Alan C. Isaak

Third Advisor

Dr. Richard L. McAnaw

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The thesis constitutes a critical examination of Rawl's psychological assumptions in A Theory of Justice. Rawl's psychological theory, derived from Rousseau and Kohlberg and characterized by his "Sense of Justice", depends upon overly altruistic assumptions about man's nature. These assumptions, along with resultant high levels of public motivation, lead to a high degree of social instability. Rawls fails to address this instability adequately.

The alternative model developed in this thesis takes as given the demonstrated ability of human beings to cooperate with one another and bases this capacity, in the tradition of Hume, on a mechanism of sympathy which brings together a wide variety of individual egos in a social situation. This position is based largely upon well understood self-interest. This model is one in which the proper mixture of egoistic and altruistic motives are achieved, and more sufficiently than Rawl's psychology, provides for application of the concept of social stability.