Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

Document Type




This dissertation argues that Amartya Sen’s The Idea of Justice, offers unique ways to view the world that are comparable with Hannah Arendt’s perspectives. Sen and Arendt are found to complement each other’s works in such a way that a combined reading of these two scholars provides a fuller conception of justice. Arendt and Sen critique the utopianism they find in a greater part of the tradition of political philosophy, namely Plato’s and John Rawls’ accounts, respectively. Their common argument, drawn from Arendt’s phenomenological approach and Sen’s social choice theory, is that if actual politics had been depicted, political philosophy would have been reflective of a diversity of viewpoints, as is found in political reality, instead of its recurring idealistic viewpoints. The idea of justice that emerges from a combined reading of Arendt and Sen, is organic in nature. By organic I mean living, subject to change and revision, so as to reflect the plurality of the “organisms” that justice intends to serve. Such a conception of justice is composed of the following: First, an appreciation of plurality and the incompleteness of life is found in both scholars’ use of phenomenology and social choice theory; second, both want freedom to result in lives that carry dignity and meaning; and, third, several processes and constructs of judgment are elaborated on by both, to show how a concern for the other can be manifested in our daily lives. Considering both scholars in tandem, illuminates ways in which each completes the other in their respect for, and dissemination of, the dignity of every human.

Committee Chair

Eubanks, Cecil L.



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