In the Beginning Was the Deed: Realism and Moralism in Political Argument

Princeton University Press (2005)
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Abstract

Williams did not think of political problems as a mere adjunct to ethical questions. He believed that there can be no timeless justification of political power, which he takes Kant and Rawls to aim at. Likewise, liberalism ignores that legitimation depends on historical circumstances. Williams’s historical relativism comes hand in hand with a realism that makes him object to utopian theories. To him, political projects are “essentially conditioned, not just in their background intellectual conditions but as a matter of empirical realism, by their historical circumstances.”

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