Philosophy Ph.D. Dissertations


Issue Individuation in Public Reason Liberalism

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Philosophy, Applied

First Advisor

Kevin Vallier (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Gary Oates (Other)

Third Advisor

Brandon Warmke (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Michael E. Weber (Committee Member)


This dissertation addresses the problem of issue individuation in public reason liberalism. The problem of issue individuation involves how laws relate to one another for purposes of public justification. That is, how many laws may be justified at once? The dissertation first provides an overview of the literature on issue individuation, and articulates three conditions any principle of issue individuation must meet. Then it articulates a solution to the problem of issue individuation in the form of a functional independence principle, which individuates laws based on the goals of idealized members of the public. Finally, the dissertation explores the implications of the functional independence principle on arguments regarding property rights and egalitarian redistribution.