Feasibility and stability in normative political philosophy: The case of liberal nationalism [Book Review]

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 9 (4):399 - 416 (2006)
Abstract
Arguments from stability for liberal nationalism rely on considerations about conditions for the feasibility or stability of liberal political ideals and factual claims about the circumstances under which these conditions are fulfilled in order to argue for nationalist conclusions. Such reliance on factual claims has been criticised by among others G. A. Cohen in other contexts as ideological reifications of social reality. In order to assess whether arguments from stability within liberal nationalism, especially as formulated by David Miller, are vulnerable to a comparable critique, the rationale for their reliance on factual claims is discussed on the basis of a number of concerns in John Rawls’s political liberalism. The concern with stability in liberal nationalism differs from stability in Rawls’s work, mainly because of the stronger non-ideal or ‘realist’ focus of the former. In so far as the ‘realism’ of arguments from stability for liberal nationalism is recognized, they are not vulnerable to the reification charge. But if the arguments are construed as realist, this at the same time makes for other tensions within liberal nationalism.
Keywords feasibility  liberal nationalism  David Miller  John Rawls  realism  reification  stability
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