Thomas Donahue
Haverford College
What are the different styles by which political theorists deal with intellectual problems? This question is important because if we do not answer it, we shall not know why methodological disagreements are so much more intense and heated than substantive disagreements. Nor shall we know why particular political theorists take the positions they do in methodological controversies. This paper argues that there are now five main styles by which political theorists deal with intellectual problems: the Classicist, the Mannerist, the Baroque, the Romantic, and the Collectivist. Classicism solves the problem it poses, Mannerism presses it, the Baroque resolves it, Romanticism dissolves it, and Collectivism publicizes it. For each style, we give an account of its main features, give examples of how it has been applied to different problems in political theory, and then identify its strengths and weaknesses.
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