Moral Psychology, Stability and the Law of Peoples

37 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2016 Last revised: 2 Sep 2017

See all articles by David A. Reidy

David A. Reidy

University of Tennessee - Department of Philosophy

Date Written: March 4, 2017


In this paper I take seriously Rawls’s characterization of his The Law of Peoples as carrying forward the project of Political Liberalism. The latter articulates Rawls’s reworking of the stability argument from Part III of A Theory of Justice to better square it with the permanent fact of reasonable doctrinal pluralism under conditions of freedom and right. As presented in Theory the stability argument is an argument from moral psychology. This moral psychology structures the problem generated by doctrinal pluralism in both Political Liberalism and The Law of Peoples, each of which sets out a consistent principled liberal response to it, the former in the domestic, and the latter in the international, context. Bringing this moral psychology to the surface sheds considerable light on Rawls’s attempt to vindicate the possibility of world hospitable to enduring just and stable constitutional liberal democracies governed by legitimate law.

Keywords: Rawls, International Justice, Stability, Moral Development, Liberal Toleration

Suggested Citation

Reidy, David A., Moral Psychology, Stability and the Law of Peoples (March 4, 2017). Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, Vol. 30, No. 2, 2017. Available at SSRN: or

David A. Reidy (Contact Author)

University of Tennessee - Department of Philosophy ( email )

801 McClung Tower
Knoxville, TN 37996
United States
865 974 3255 (Phone)
865 974 3509 (Fax)


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