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We argue that the Rawlsian description of a just liberal society, the well‐ordered society, fails to accommodate deep disagreement and is insufficiently dynamic. In response, we formulate an alternative model that we call the open society, organized around a new account of dynamic stability. In the open society, constitutional rules must be stable enough to preserve social conditions that foster experimentation, while leaving room in legal and institutional rules for innovation and change. Systemic robustness and dynamic stability become important for the open society in a way that they are not in the well‐ordered society. This model of the open society and the corresponding model of stability have interesting implications for thinking about the goals, norms, and institutions of liberal political systems.


This is the accepted version of the following article:

Thrasher, John, and Kevin Vallier. “Political Stability in the Open Society.” American Journal of Political Science, vol. 62, no. 2, 2018, pp. 398-409. DOI: 10.1111/ajps.12333

which has been published in final form at DOI: 10.1111/ajps.12333. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

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Midwest Political Science Association



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