Dissertation Title: A Theory of Governance Means

Doctoral Supervisor: Professor Liam Murphy


Moran Yahav is a JSD candidate at New York University School of Law and a 2011-2013 Tikvah Scholar. Her doctoral dissertation, supervised by Professor Liam Murphy, aims to develop a theory of justified governance means.

Moran completed her LLM at New York University School of Law as a Hans Kelsen Scholar (2010), undertaking a thesis in legal philosophy. She received her LLB, magna cum laude, from Tel Aviv University, Israel (2007), where she served as a teaching and research assistant in various fields, as an assistant editor of the journal Theoretical Inquiries in Law, and as president of the Law School Student Senate.

Upon graduation from Tel Aviv University, Moran interned with the litigation group of S. Horowitz & Co, and clerked for the Honorable Justice Esther Hayut of the Supreme Court of Israel. Upon completion of her LLM, and prior to commencing her JSD, Moran served as the leading legal adviser to the Public Commission to Examine the Maritime Incident of 31 May 2010, chaired by Justice (ret.) Jacob Turkel. She has been a member of the Israeli bar since 2009.


Moran’s research addresses an important yet relatively unexplored question: what considerations should a government take into account in choosing between the different governance means which might be available for the achievement of a particular end? Put simply, assuming a government has settled on a (decent) end to be achieved, how should it choose between techniques as diverse as orders, prohibitions, standards, principles, performance measurement, reputation rating, propaganda, symbols, ceremonies, etc to achieve this end? On what basis should the government assess the various tools at its disposal?

The project distinguishes this question - “the question of governance” - from the question of government (i.e., what are the conditions under which it is justifiable for one person (or a group of people) to tell a group of free and equal individuals what to do and back that order by force?) and from the question of governing (i.e., what are justified conditions of social justice and social cooperation among free and equal individuals that a group can and ought to set forth?).

The question of governance has never received the same attention as the questions of government and governing. Moran’s project attempts to place the question of governance in the center of investigation by providing an independent justificatory theory of governance means (that is, independent of the question of whether the government is, in fact, legitimate and whether its aims are as just as they can be).

Moran thus seeks to provide standards by which we can understand and evaluate processes of social regulation, implementation and enforcement; to examine the theoretical as well as the organizational considerations that bear on this question; and to more critically assess the relationship between governance means, the aims of governments and the legitimacy of governments. Moran’s research also extends beyond the scope of State governance to local, transnational and corporate governance, highlighting the similarities and differences between the various spheres.

Moran's Bookshelf: