How to do realistic political theory

European Journal of Political Theory 16 (3):283-303 (2017)

Abstract
In recent years, a number of realist thinkers have charged much contemporary political theory with being idealistic and moralistic. While the basic features of the realist counter-movement are reasonably well understood, realism is still considered a critical, primarily negative creed which fails to offer a positive, alternative way of thinking normatively about politics. Aiming to counteract this general perception, in this article I draw on Bernard Williams’s claims about how to construct a politically coherent conception of liberty from the non-political value of freedom. I do this because Williams’s argument provides an illuminating example of the distinctive nature of realist political thinking and its attractions. I argue that Williams’s account of realist political thinking challenges the orthodox moralist claim that normative political arguments must be guided by an ideal ethical theory. I then spell out the repercussions Williams’s claims about the significance of political opposition and non-mor...
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DOI 10.1177/1474885115577820
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References found in this work BETA

Rescuing Justice and Equality.G. A. Cohen (ed.) - 2008 - Harvard University Press.
Philosophy and Real Politics.Raymond Geuss - 2008 - Princeton University Press.
Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
The Law of Peoples.John Rawls - 1999 - Philosophical Quarterly 51 (203):246-253.

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Citations of this work BETA

Political Realism as Ideology Critique.Janosch Prinz & Enzo Rossi - 2017 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 20 (3):334-348.
Principles, Practices and Disciplinary Power Struggles in Political Theory.Janosch Prinz - forthcoming - European Journal of Political Theory:147488511985758.
Ethics, Morality and the Case for Realist Political Theory.Edward Hall & Matt Sleat - 2017 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 20 (3):278-295.
Realism, Utopianism, and Radical Values.Paul Raekstad - 2018 - European Journal of Philosophy 26 (1):145-168.

View all 11 citations / Add more citations

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