On explaining political disagreement: The notion of an essentially contested concept

Inquiry 33 (1):81 – 98 (1990)
Although the notion of an essentially contested concept may shed light on the logic of disputes over the proper application of some key political terms, it nevertheless plays no genuine role in explaining the intractability of these disputes. The notion of an essentially contested concept is defended against some influential criticisms, showing how it is possible for one conception of an essentially contested concept to be justifiably regarded as superior to other competing conceptions. Two possible answers are distinguished to the question of why disputes over essentially contested concepts should be regarded as inevitable, but neither provides us with a plausible explanation for why they are so intractable. Disagreements over the proper use of key political concepts are better explained by features of moral and political discourse, such as the short reach of ?intellectual authority? and the fact that consensus is not one of its primary aims, in conjunction with empirical hypotheses from the social sciences, rather than by essential contestedness theses
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/00201749008602212
 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: 15,879
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
W. B. Gallie (1955). Essentially Contested Concepts. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 56 (1):167 - 198.

View all 15 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Pekka Väyrynen (2014). Essential Contestability and Evaluation. Australasian Journal of Philosophy (3):1-18.
Thomas Clarke (1999). Feyerabend, Rorty, Mouffe and Keane: On Realising Democracy. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 2 (3):81-118.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

30 ( #103,809 of 1,725,189 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #349,103 of 1,725,189 )

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.