Social Philosophy and Policy 33 (1-2):393-412 (2016)

Authors
Robert Jubb
University of Reading
Abstract
This essay discusses the relation between ideal theory and two forms of political moralism identified by Bernard Williams, structural and enactment views. It argues that ideal theory, at least in the sense Rawls used that term, only makes sense for structural forms of moralism. These theories see their task as describing the constraints that properly apply to political agents and institutions. As a result, they are primarily concerned with norms that govern action. In contrast, many critiques of ideal theory are structured and motivated by their commitment to an enactment model of political theorizing. This instead sees political agents and institutions as instruments for producing or promoting better states of affairs. Enactment models treat the evaluations that rank different states of affairs as justificatorily basic, rather than norms governing action on which structural models focus. This reveals an important feature of debates about ideal theory. Whether ideal theory is capable of appropriately guiding action will depend on what the criteria for appropriately guiding action are, about which different theorists have importantly different views. For example, some popular strategies for defending ideal theory fail, while it may be much less clear that some alternatives to ideal theory can provide action guidance than their advocates claim.
Keywords ideal theory  feasibility  norms  evaluations  political realism  justification
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1017/s0265052516000212
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
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

Ideal Vs. Non‐Ideal Theory: A Conceptual Map.Laura Valentini - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (9):654-664.
Realism in Normative Political Theory.Enzo Rossi & Matt Sleat - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (10):689-701.
Justice as Fairness: A Restatement.C. L. Ten - 2003 - Mind 112 (447):563-566.
Ideal and Nonideal Theory.A. John Simmons - 2010 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 38 (1):5-36.
Realism in Political Theory.William A. Galston - 2010 - European Journal of Political Theory 9 (4):385-411.

View all 16 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Can Rawls’s Nonideal Theory Save His Ideal Theory?Hye Ryoung Kang - 2016 - Social Theory and Practice 42 (1):32-56.
Can Rawls’s Non-Ideal Theory Save His Ideal Theory?Hye-Ryoung Kang - 2016 - Social Theory and Practice 42 (1):32-56.
Three Failed Charges Against Ideal Theory.Eva Erman & Niklas Möller - 2013 - Social Theory and Practice 39 (1):19-44.
Debate: Ideal Theory—A Reply to Valentini.Holly Lawford-Smith - 2010 - Journal of Political Philosophy 18 (3):357-368.
Towards a ‘Non‐Ideal’ Non‐Ideal Theory.Brian Carey - 2015 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 32 (2):147-162.
Feasibility Constraints for Political Theories.Holly Lawford-Smith - 2010 - Dissertation, Australian National University
Against Ideal Guidance.David Wiens - 2015 - Journal of Politics 77 (2):433-446.
Tragedies of Non-Ideal Theory.Robert Jubb - 2012 - European Journal of Political Theory 11 (3):229-246.
Rawlsian Theory and the Circumstances of Politics.Andrew Mason - 2010 - Political Theory 38 (5):658-683.
Idealizing Morality.Lisa Tessman - 2010 - Hypatia 25 (4):797 - 824.
Action-Guidance, Oppression, and Nonideal Theory.Lisa H. Schwartzman - 2016 - Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 2 (1):1-9.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2018-05-31

Total views
569 ( #11,777 of 2,439,585 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
306 ( #1,387 of 2,439,585 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes