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
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1017/S0266267115000164
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
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 and Nonideal Theory.A. John Simmons - 2010 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 38 (1):5-36.
Ideal Vs. Non-Ideal Theory: A Conceptual Map.Laura Valentini - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (9):654-664.
Utopophobia.David Estlund - 2014 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 42 (2):113-134.
Human Nature and the Limits (If Any) of Political Philosophy.David Estlund - 2011 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 39 (3):207-237.
Understanding Political Feasibility.Holly Lawford-Smith - 2013 - Journal of Political Philosophy 21 (3):243-259.

View all 18 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

The Feasibility Issue.Nicholas Southwood - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (8):e12509.
"Actual" Does Not Imply "Feasible".Nicholas Southwood & David Wiens - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (11):3037-3060.
Assessing Ideal Theories: Lessons From the Theory of Second Best.David Wiens - 2016 - Politics, Philosophy, and Economics 15 (2):132-149.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Feasibility Constraints for Political Theories.Holly Lawford-Smith - 2010 - Dissertation, Australian National University
Understanding Political Feasibility.Holly Lawford-Smith - 2013 - Journal of Political Philosophy 21 (3):243-259.
Feasibility and Socialism.Pablo Gilabert - 2011 - Journal of Political Philosophy 19 (1):52-63.
On Human Improvement.Asher Seidel - 1999 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 13 (2):209-222.
Justifying Feasibility Constraints on Human Rights.Henning Hahn - 2012 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (2):143-157.
The Feasibility of Segmentation of Protolanguage.Istvan Zachar - 2011 - Interaction Studies 12 (1):1-35.
Existence and Feasibility in Arithmetic.Rohit Parikh - 1971 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 36 (3):494-508.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2012-11-21

Total downloads
341 ( #11,544 of 2,273,433 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
24 ( #16,433 of 2,273,433 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature