Metaphilosophy 43 (1-2):58-70 (2012)

In the study of politics, Cambridge is sometimes associated with a school of political philosophical “realism.” This article discusses what realism in political philosophy might mean, by examining first what might count as “unrealistic” political philosophy (looking at Sidgwick and Rawls), and then some recent attempts to identify a more realistic philosophical approach to politics. It argues that realistic political philosophy tends to emerge as a thin account of politics that falls between the stools of either more philosophical (i.e., more idealistic) or less philosophical (i.e., more historical) accounts. It illustrates this in relation to Sidgwick and also Hobbes, who is often held up as the quintessential realist in the history of political philosophy
Keywords representation  legitimacy  Rawls  Sidgwick  Hobbes  realism
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9973.2011.01730.x
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 68,944
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

Political Liberalism.John Rawls - 1993 - Columbia University Press.
Leviathan.Thomas Hobbes - 1651 - Harmondsworth, Penguin.

View all 13 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Realism in Normative Political Theory.Enzo Rossi & Matt Sleat - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (10):689-701.
What is a Political Value? Political Philosophy and Fidelity to Reality.Matt Sleat - 2016 - Social Philosophy and Policy 33 (1-2):252-272.
Normative Behaviourism as a Solution to Four Problems in Realism and Non-Ideal Theory.Jonathan Floyd - 2020 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 23 (2):137-162.
Migration, Political Philosophy, and the Real World.Sarah Fine - 2017 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 20 (6):719-725.
Hobbes and Political Realism.Robin Douglass - 2016 - European Journal of Political Theory 19 (2):250-269.

View all 12 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Consensus, Compromise, Justice and Legitimacy.Enzo Rossi - 2013 - Critical Review of Social and International Political Philosophy 16 (4):557-572.
Political Realism and Fact-Sensitivity.Edward Hall - 2013 - Res Publica 19 (2):173-181.
Why Study the History of Political Thought?Dick Howard - 2011 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 37 (5):519-531.
John Rawls: An Interpretation.Sebastiano Maffettone - 2001 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 1 (3):189-216.
Political Philosophy.Steven B. Smith - 2012 - Yale University Press.
Political Essays.David Hume - 1994 - Cambridge University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
105 ( #109,937 of 2,498,137 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #171,501 of 2,498,137 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes