The situational context on the nature of political philosophy

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 8 (5):535 - 556 (2005)
Rationalism in political philosophy is the view that politics should be governed by moral principles and that those principles can and should be justified independently of the situations and circumstances that make up political reality. This traditional view of political philosophy implies that the meaning of right political action is determined by moral principles the rational authority of which derives from abstract philosophical reasoning, not from the situations and circumstances that are the substance of political reality. In this essay I argue that rationalist moralities must presuppose the understanding of particular situations and circumstances for their meaningful and correct interpretation. This means, I argue, that the rightness of political judgement and action is immanent in particular situations, not in abstract moralities. And this, I argue, suggests a shift from the traditional view of political society as the embodiment of abstract principles, towards a view of political society as the embodiment of the activity of situational judgement. A society worth hoping for, then, is one in which we can live in the light of our understanding of the situations and circumstances that are the substance of everyday life, rather than in the shadow of abstract moralities. Such a society would be sensitive to the particularities and complexities of political reality, but at the same time it does not succumb to moral relativism and skepticism.
Keywords abstract pictures  action  deliberation  judgement  practical reasoning  principles  rationalism  situations
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,360
External links
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA

    No references found.

    Citations of this work BETA

    No citations found.

    Similar books and articles

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index


    Total downloads

    15 ( #90,381 of 1,089,057 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    1 ( #69,801 of 1,089,057 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature

    Start a new thread
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.