Political Ideals and the Feasibility Frontier

Economics and Philosophy 31 (3):447-477 (2015)

Authors
David Wiens
University of California, San Diego
Abstract
Recent methodological debates regarding the place of feasibility considerations in normative political theory are hindered for want of a rigorous model of the feasibility frontier. To address this shortfall, I present an analysis of feasibility that generalizes the economic concept of a production possibility frontier and then develop a rigorous model of the feasibility frontier using the familiar possible worlds technology. I then show that this model has significant methodological implications for political philosophy. On the Target View, a political ideal presents a long-term goal for morally progressive reform efforts and, thus, serves as an important reference point for our specification of normative political principles. I use the model to show that we can- not reasonably expect that adopting political ideals as long-term reform objectives will guide us toward the realization of morally optimal feasible states of affairs. I conclude by proposing that political philosophers turn their attention to the analysis of actual social failures rather than political ideals.
Keywords feasibility  ideal theory  political ideals
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Reprint years 2015
DOI 10.1017/s0266267115000164
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References found in this work BETA

Rescuing Justice and Equality.G. A. Cohen (ed.) - 2008 - Harvard University Press.
World Poverty and Human Rights.Thomas Pogge - 2002 - Ethics and International Affairs 19 (1):1-7.
Ideal Vs. Non‐Ideal Theory: A Conceptual Map.Laura Valentini - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (9):654-664.
Ideal and Nonideal Theory.A. John Simmons - 2010 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 38 (1):5-36.

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Citations of this work BETA

"Actual" Does Not Imply "Feasible".Nicholas Southwood & David Wiens - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (11):3037-3060.
Justice and Feasibility: A Dynamic Approach.Pablo Gilabert - 2017 - In K. Vallier & M. Weber (eds.), Political Utopias: Contemporary Debates. Oxford University Press. pp. 95-126.
Assessing Ideal Theories: Lessons From the Theory of Second Best.David Wiens - 2016 - Politics, Philosophy, and Economics 15 (2):132-149.
The Feasibility Issue.Nicholas Southwood - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (8):e12509.

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