Political Realism and Fact-Sensitivity

Res Publica 19 (2):173-181 (2013)
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Abstract

Political realists complain that much contemporary political philosophy is insufficiently attentive to various facts about politics yet some political philosophers insist that any critique of normative claims on grounds of unrealism is misplaced. In this paper I focus on the methodological position G.A. Cohen champions in order assess the extent to which this retort succeeds in nullifying the realist critique of contemporary political philosophy. I argue that Cohen’s work does not succeed in doing so because the political principles that we are prepared to endorse are hostage to various fact-sensitive judgements about how they apply to the political domain. I then argue that this discredits various philosophical approaches to political theorising which begin by utilising non-political thought-experiments, such as Cohen’s own Why Not Socialism?

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Citations of this work

Realism in Normative Political Theory.Enzo Rossi & Matt Sleat - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (10):689-701.
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Political Realism as Methods not Metaethics.Jonathan Leader Maynard - 2022 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 25 (3):449-463.
Facts, Principles, and (Real) Politics.Enzo Rossi - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (2):505-520.
Facts, principles, and global justice: does the ‘real world’ matter?Johann Go - 2023 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 26 (6):810-830.

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References found in this work

Rescuing Justice and Equality.G. A. Cohen (ed.) - 2008 - Harvard University Press.
Philosophy and Real Politics.Raymond Geuss - 2008 - Princeton University Press.
Rescuing Justice and Equality.G. A. Cohen - 2008 - Harvard University Press.
Why Not Socialism?Gerald Allan Cohen - 2009 - Princeton University Press.

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