Is political philosophy too ahistorical?

The accusation that contemporary political philosophy is carried out in too ahistorical a fashion depends upon it being possible for historical facts to ground normative political principles. This they cannot do. Each of the seven ways in which it might be thought possible for them to do so fails for one or more of four reasons: (1) History yields no timeless set of universal moral values; (2) it displays no convergence upon such a set; (3) it reveals no univocal moral or cultural context in the present; (4) the failure of an ethical tradition to successfully respond to criticism over a long period of time is no guarantee of its inability to do so. Because historical critiques of contemporary normative thought rely upon one or more of these things holding true, they are, as a class of arguments, to be rejected.
Keywords Political Philosophy  History  historicism  Macintyre  Skinner  Berlin  traditionalism  contextualism  Larmore  political theory
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DOI 10.1080/13698230903471376
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References found in this work BETA
Bernard Williams (2002). Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Michael Sandel (2003). Liberalism and the Limits of Justice. In Derek Matravers & Jonathan E. Pike (eds.), Journal of Philosophy. Routledge, in Association with the Open University 336-343.

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Citations of this work BETA
Gabriele De Angelis (2010). On the Importance of History for Political Philosophy. A Reply to Jonathan Floyd. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 13 (4):541-548.
Jonathan Floyd (2011). Historical Facts and Political Principles. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 14 (1):89-90.

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