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  1. A realist membership account of political obligation.Zoltán Gábor Szűcs - 2023 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice (5):1-16.
    The paper offers a realist account of political obligation. More precisely, it offers an account that belongs to the Williamsian liberal strain of contemporary realist theory (as opposed to a Geussian radical realist strain) and draws on and expands some ideas familiar from Bernard Williams’s oeuvre (thick/thin ethical concepts, political realism/moralism, a minimal normative threshold for distinctively political rule). Accordingly, the paper will claim that the fact of membership in a polity provides people with sufficient reason for complying with those (...)
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  • Realism and Political Normativity.Matt Sleat - 2021 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 25 (3):465-478.
    A prevailing understanding of realism, chiefly among its critics, casts realists as those who seek a ‘distinctively political normativity’, where this is interpreted as meaning nonmoral in kind. Moralists, on this account, are those who reject this and believe that political normativity remains moral. Critics have then focused much of their attention on demonstrating that the search for a nonmoral political normativity is doomed to fail which, if right, would then seem to fatally undermine the realist endeavour. This paper makes (...)
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  • State Legitimacy and Religious Accommodation: The Case of Sacred Places.Janosch Prinz & Enzo Rossi - forthcoming - Journal of Law, Religion and State.
    In this paper we put forward a realist account of the problem of the accommodation of conflicting claims over sacred places. Our argument takes its cue from the empirical finding that modern, Western-style states necessarily mould religion into shapes that are compatible with state rule. So, at least in the context of modern states there is no pre-political morality of religious freedom that states ought to follow when adjudicating claims over sacred spaces. In which case most liberal normative theory on (...)
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  • Review of Political Realism in Apocalyptic Times by Alison McQueen. [REVIEW]Enzo Rossi - forthcoming - Hobbes Studies.
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  • Taking rulers' interests seriously: The case for realist theories of legitimacy.Ben Cross - 2024 - European Journal of Political Theory 23 (2):159-181.
    In this article I defend a new argument against moralist theories of legitimacy and in favour of realist theories. Moralist theories, I argue, are vulnerable to ideological and wishful thinking because they do not connect the demands of legitimacy with the interests of rulers. Realist theories, however, generally do manage to make this connection. This is because satisfying the usual realist criteria for legitimacy – the creation of a stable political order that transcends brute coercion – is usually necessary for (...)
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  • Taking rulers' interests seriously: The case for realist theories of legitimacy.Ben Cross - 2024 - European Journal of Political Theory 23 (2):159-181.
    In this article I defend a new argument against moralist theories of legitimacy and in favour of realist theories. Moralist theories, I argue, are vulnerable to ideological and wishful thinking because they do not connect the demands of legitimacy with the interests of rulers. Realist theories, however, generally do manage to make this connection. This is because satisfying the usual realist criteria for legitimacy – the creation of a stable political order that transcends brute coercion – is usually necessary for (...)
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  • Radicalizing realist legitimacy.Ben Cross - 2019 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 46 (4):369-389.
    Several critics of realist theories of political legitimacy have alleged that it possesses a problematic bias towards the status quo. This bias is thought to be reflected in the way in which these...
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  • Realist legitimacy: What kind of internalism?Ben Cross - forthcoming - Philosophy and Social Criticism.
    Most realist theories of legitimacy are internalist theories, meaning that they regard legitimacy as a function of how subjects view their own rulers. However, some realists seek to qualify their internalism by holding that legitimacy is not simply a matter of whether subjects accept their rulers’ exercise of power. According to one such view, legitimacy requires that rulers’ power be ‘acceptable’ to subjects, in the sense that it can be justified on the basis of values that they accept. Call this (...)
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  • Metaethics as Dead Politics? On Political Normativity and Justification.Ben Cross - forthcoming - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice:1-17.
    Many political realists endorse some notion of political normativity. They think that there are certain normative claims about politics that do not depend on moral premises. The most prominent moralist objections to political normativity have been metaethical: specifically, that political normativity is not genuinely normative; and that it is incapable of justifying normative claims. In this article, I criticize the latter metaethical objection. I argue that the objection presupposes a notion of ‘justification’ that renders it something that is no longer (...)
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  • How radical is radical realism?Ben Cross - 2021 - European Journal of Philosophy 30 (3):1110-1124.
    European Journal of Philosophy, Volume 30, Issue 3, Page 1110-1124, September 2022.
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  • How radical is radical realism?Ben Cross - 2021 - European Journal of Philosophy 30 (3):1110-1124.
    European Journal of Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  • Can narratives about sovereign debt be generally ideologically suspicious? An exercise in broadening the scope of ideology critique.Ben Cross & Janosch Prinz - forthcoming - Journal of Social Philosophy.
    Journal of Social Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  • Are Radical Realists Hypocrites about Intuition-Dependence?Ben Cross - forthcoming - Moral Philosophy and Politics.
    Radical realists criticise the role that moral intuitions play in moralist political philosophy. However, radical realists may also rely on certain epistemic intuitions when making use of their theories of ideology critique. Hence, one might wonder whether radical realists’ criticism of moralists’ intuition-dependence is hypocritical. Call this the intuition asymmetry objection. My aim in this article is to show that the intuition asymmetry objection fails. After examining the basis of objections by radical realists to the role of moral intuitions in (...)
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  • Political realism and the quest for political progress.Ilaria Cozzaglio & Greta Favara - 2022 - Constellations 29 (1):93-106.
    Constellations, Volume 29, Issue 1, Page 93-106, March 2022.
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  • Political realism, legitimacy, and a place for external critique.Ilaria Cozzaglio - 2021 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 47 (10):1213-1236.
    Political realists claim that politics should be regulated by a distinctive political normativity, one that does not rely on external, pre-political moral standards. It is in this sense that they distinguish political realism from ‘political moralism’, regarded as an approach that understands political theory as applied ethics. Importantly, realists’ anti-moralism is not motivated by the conviction that moral considerations do not play any role in the political realm. Rather, the target is the externalism of the normative resources on which moralist (...)
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  • In defence of progressive political change: against conservative progress and other normative troubles.Ilaria Cozzaglio - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy.
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  • Feasibility beyond Non-ideal Theory: a Realist Proposal.Ilaria Cozzaglio & Greta Favara - 2021 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 25 (3):417-432.
    Some realists in political theory deny that the notion of feasibility has any place in realist theory, while others claim that feasibility constraints are essential elements of realist normative theorising. But none have so far clarified what exactly they are referring to when thinking of feasibility and political realism together. In this article, we develop a conception of the realist feasibility frontier based on an appraisal of how political realism should be distinguished from non-ideal theories. In this realist framework, political (...)
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  • Can realism save us from populism? Rousseau in the digital age.Ilaria Cozzaglio - 2022 - European Journal of Political Theory 21 (2).
    In 2016, the Five Stars Movement (5SM), one of the parties currently in power in Italy, launched the ‘Rousseau platform’. This is a platform meant to enhance direct democracy, transparency and the real participation of the people in the making of laws, policies and political proposals. Although ennobled with the name of Rousseau, the 5SM’s redemptive promise has been strongly criticised in the public sphere for being irresponsible and ideological. Political realism, I will argue, can perform both a diagnostic and (...)
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  • Moderate realist ideology critique.Rebecca L. Clark - 2024 - European Journal of Philosophy 32 (1):260-273.
    Realist ideology critique (RIC) is a strand of political realism recently developed in response to concerns that realism is biased toward the status quo. RIC aims to debunk an individual's belief that a social institution is legitimate by revealing that the belief is caused by that very same institution. Despite its growing prominence, RIC has received little critical attention. In this article, I buck this trend. First, I improve on contemporary accounts of RIC by clarifying its status and the role (...)
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  • Moderate realist ideology critique.Rebecca L. Clark - 2024 - European Journal of Philosophy (1):260-273.
    Realist ideology critique (RIC) is a strand of political realism recently developed in response to concerns that realism is biased toward the status quo. RIC aims to debunk an individual's belief that a social institution is legitimate by revealing that the belief is caused by that very same institution. Despite its growing prominence, RIC has received little critical attention. In this article, I buck this trend. First, I improve on contemporary accounts of RIC by clarifying its status and the role (...)
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  • The Sources of Political Normativity: the Case for Instrumental and Epistemic Normativity in Political Realism.Carlo Burelli & Chiara Destri - 2021 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 25 (3):397-413.
    This article argues that political realists have at least two strategies to provide distinctively political normative judgements that have nothing to do with morality. The first ground is instrumental normativity, which states that if we believe that something is a necessary means to a goal we have, we have a reason to do it. In politics, certain means are required by any ends we may intend to pursue. The second ground is epistemic normativity, stating that if something is true, this (...)
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  • Political normativity and the functional autonomy of politics.Carlo Burelli - 2020 - European Journal of Political Theory 21 (4):147488512091850.
    This article argues for a new interpretation of the realist claim that politics is autonomous from morality and involves specific political values. First, this article defends an original normative...
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  • Political normativity and the functional autonomy of politics.Carlo Burelli - 2022 - European Journal of Political Theory 21 (4):627-649.
    This article argues for a new interpretation of the realist claim that politics is autonomous from morality and involves specific political values. First, this article defends an original normative source: functional normativity. Second, it advocates a substantive functional standard: political institutions ought to be assessed by their capacity to select and implement collective decisions. Drawing from the ‘etiological account’ in philosophy of biology, I will argue that functions yield normative standards, which are independent from morality. For example, a ‘good heart’ (...)
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  • A progressive approach to normative political theorizing.Enrico Biale & Corrado Fumagalli - forthcoming - European Journal of Political Theory.
    In this article, we argue that a progressive approach to normative political theorizing should incorporate a conception of meaningful political change that is nonutopian (it conceives of advancements as gradual stages), large-scale (it involves the largest possible numbers of organized and unorganized social movements), and democratically emancipatory (it displays a commitment to breaking down the barriers that prevent individuals from feeling responsible for the direction of society). Bearing this in mind, such an approach should be organized around a cooperative effort (...)
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  • A Defence of Robust Idealism in Political Philosophy.Stefano Bertea - 2023 - Moral Philosophy and Politics 10 (2):249-266.
    In this contribution, I defend a robust model of political idealism, making the case for such an approach to both the theory and practice of politics. On this view, not only in framing a political philosophy but also in putting forward policy proposals and institutional designs, we need not think about feasibility as an overriding, make-or-break criterion for evaluating the soundness of that theory or proposal, neither of which loses its point simply because it is deemed to be unlikely to (...)
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  • Political Realism and Epistemic Constraints.Ugur Aytac - 2022 - Social Theory and Practice 48 (1):1-27.
    This article argues that Bernard Williams’ Critical Theory Principle (CTP) is in tension with his realist commitments, i.e., deriving political norms from practices that are inherent to political life. The Williamsian theory of legitimate state power is based on the central importance of the distinction between political rule and domination. Further, Williams supplements the normative force of his theory with the CTP, i.e., the principle that acceptance of a justification regarding power relations ought not to be created by the very (...)
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  • Two Conceptions of Legitimacy: A Response to Fabian Wendt’s Moralist Critique of Political Realism.Uğur Aytaç - 2017 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 31 (3):57-76.
    Fabian Wendt argues that political realism is not capable of explaining how the state’s moral right to rule over its subjects is generated. I believe that Wendt’s criticism is not sound because his position relies on the false implicit assumption that realism and moralism ask the same philosophical questions on state authority. I contend that it is fallacious to evaluate the realist account of legitimacy by the standards of moralism, and vice versa, as these two accounts arrive at different conceptions (...)
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  • Global Political Legitimacy and the Structural Power of Capital.Ugur Aytac - 2023 - Journal of Social Philosophy 54 (4):490-509.
    In contemporary democracies, global capitalism exerts a significant influence over how state power is exercised, raising questions about where political power resides in global politics. This question is important, since our specific considerations about justifiability of political power, i.e. political legitimacy, depend on how we characterize political power at the global level. As a partial answer to this question, I argue that our notion of global political legitimacy should be reoriented to include the structural power of the Transnational Capitalist Class (...)
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  • Realism against delegitimation.Dominik Austrup - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy.
    Political realists exercise ideology critique to emancipate citizens from problematic beliefs concerning the legitimacy of their social order. They seek to unveil hidden conflict within apparent harmony. However, realists have so far neglected the opposite case in which erroneous beliefs delegitimise a social order, thus contributing to unrest and resentment. As a prototypical case for delegitimation, I will discuss the ‘big lie’ narrative that surrounds the 2020 presidential election in the United States. As I will argue, realist ideology critique is (...)
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  • Realism Versus Constructivism in Their Competition for Dominance in Politics: The Case of Russia.Alexey Alyushin & Helena Knyazeva - 2018 - Axiomathes 28 (3):345-361.
    This article focuses on the general theoretical issue of realism versus constructivism in politics, with a case of the present-day Russia as the main and most telling example. We present four assertions that we are going to defend. First, we claim that in the sphere of international relations, political realism of the offensive type, after decades of more tempered USA–USSR relations, is again challenging its opponent: political constructivism. Second, political realism is winning in the sphere of domestic politics and policy (...)
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  • An ideology critique of nonideal methodology.Matthew Adams - 2021 - European Journal of Political Theory 20 (4).
    Ideal theory has been extensively contested on the grounds that it is ideology: namely, that it performs the distorting social role of reifying and enforcing unjust features of the status quo. Indeed, a growing number of philosophers adopt a nonideal methodology—which dispenses with ideal theory—because of this ideology critique. I argue, however, that such philosophers are confused about the ultimate dialectical upshot of this critique even if it succeeds. I do so by constructing a parallel—equally plausible—ideology critique of nonideal methodology; (...)
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  • Critiquing racist ideology as harmful social norms.Keunchang Oh - forthcoming - Philosophy and Social Criticism.
    In what follows, I will argue that racist ideology should be understood in terms of racist social norms that constitute certain incentive structures. To this end, I will motivate my position by exa...
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  • Political ethics in illiberal regimes: A realist interpretation.Zoltán Gábor Szűcs - 2023 - Manchester University Press.
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  • Understanding Religion, Governing Religion: A Realist Perspective.Enzo Rossi - 2016 - In Cécile Laborde & Aurélia Bardon (eds.), Religion in Liberal Political Philosophy. New York, NY: oxford university press.
    Cécile Laborde has argued that the freedom we think of as ‘freedom of religion’ should be understood as a bundle of separate and relatively independent freedoms. I criticise that approach by pointing out that it is insufficiently sensitive to facts about the sorts of entities that liberal states are. I argue that states have good reasons to mould phenomena such as religion into easily governable monoliths. If this is a problem from the normative point of view, it is not due (...)
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  • The Best and the Rest: Idealistic Thinking in a Non-Ideal World.David Wiens - manuscript
    Models of idealistic societies pervade the history of political thought from ancient times to the present. How can these models contribute to our thinking about political life in our non-ideal world? Not, as many political theorists have hoped, by performing a normative function -- by giving us reasons to accept particular political principles for the purpose of regulating our thought and behavior. Even still, idealistic models can sharpen our thinking about politics by performing a conceptual function -- by helping us (...)
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  • Can Modus Vivendi Save Liberalism from Moralism? A Critical Assessment of John Gray’s Political Realism.Rossi Enzo - 2018 - In John Horton, Manon Westphal & Ulrich Willems (eds.), The Political Theory of Modus Vivendi. Cham: Springer Verlag. pp. 95-109.
    This chapter assesses John Gray’s modus vivendi-based justification for liberalism. I argue that his approach is preferable to the more orthodox deontological or teleological justificatory strategies, at least because of the way it can deal with the problem of diversity. But then I show how that is not good news for liberalism, for grounding liberal political authority in a modus vivendi undermines liberalism’s aspiration to occupy a privileged normative position vis-à-vis other kinds of regimes. So modus vivendi can save liberalism (...)
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  • What (if anything) is ideological about ideal theory?Titus Stahl - 2024 - European Journal of Political Theory 23 (2):135-158.
    It is sometimes argued that ideal theories in political philosophy are a form of ideology. This article examines arguments building on the work of Charles Mills and Raymond Geuss for the claim that ideal theories are cognitively distorting belief systems that have the effect of stabilizing unjust social arrangements. I argue that Mills and Geuss neither succeed in establishing that the content of ideal theories is necessarily cognitively defective in the way characteristic for ideologies, nor can they make plausible which (...)
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  • The radical realist critique of Rawls: a reconstruction and response.Paul Raekstad - 2024 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 27 (2):183-205.
    Despite the rapidly growing literature on realism, there’s little discussion of the ideology critique of John Rawls offered by one of its leading lights, Raymond Geuss. There is little understanding of what (most of) this critique consists in and few discussions of how Rawls’ approach to political theorising may be defended against it. To remedy this situation, this article reconstructs the realist ideology critique of Rawls advanced by Raymond Geuss, which has three prongs: (1) Rawls’ political theory offers insufficient tools (...)
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  • Transformative Contextual Realism.Manon Westphal - 2021 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 25 (3):479-497.
    Realist political theory is often confronted with the objection that it is biased towards the status quo. Although this criticism overlooks the fact that realist political theories contain various resources for critique, a realist approach that is strong in status quo critique and contributes, constructively, to the theorising of alternatives to the status quo is a desideratum. The article argues that contextual realism, which sources its normativity from particular contexts, harbours an underexploited potential to establish such a form of political (...)
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  • Doing Realist Political Theory: Introduction.Manon Westphal & Ulrich Willems - 2023 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 26 (3):319-334.
    This introductory chapter gives an overview of the debate on realism in political theory and sets out two themes that are particularly important for this debate: the role of practice in realist political theory and the nature and place of normativity in realist political theory. These two themes are not only among the most discussed topics in the debate on possibilities to do realist political theory. Answers to the question of what more applied forms of realist political theory might look (...)
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  • Against the status quo: the social as a resource of critique in realist political theory.Manon Westphal - 2023 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 26 (3):418-436.
    The forms of status quo critique that current approaches to realist political theory enable are unsatisfactory. They either formulate standards of constructive critique, but remain uncritical of a great range of political situations, or they offer means for criticising basically all political situations, but neglect constructive critique. As part of the endeavour to develop a status quo critique that is potentially radical and constructive, realists might consider possibilities to use non-standard social practices – social practices that function differently than stipulated (...)
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  • Impure theorizing in an imperfect world: Politics, utopophobia and critical theory in Geuss’s realism.Peter J. Verovšek - 2018 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 45 (3):265-283.
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  • From Moral Principles to Political Judgments: The Case for Pragmatic Idealism.Pierre-Étienne Vandamme - 2021 - Moral Philosophy and Politics 8 (2):261-283.
    Political judgments usually combine a normative principle or intuition with an appreciation of empirical facts regarding the achievability of different options and their potential consequences. The interesting question dividing partisans of political idealism and realism is whether these kinds of considerations should be integrated into the normative principles themselves or considered apart. At first sight, if a theorist is concerned with guiding political judgments, non-ideal or realist theorizing can seem more attractive. In this article, however, I argue that ideal theorizing (...)
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  • Can political realism be action-guiding?Luke Ulaş - 2023 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 26 (4):528-553.
    Various political realists claim the superior ‘action-guiding’ qualities of their way of approaching normative political theory, as compared to ‘liberal moralism’. This paper subjects that claim to critique. I first clarify the general idea of action-guidance, and identify two types of guidance that a political theory might try to offer – ‘prescriptive action-guidance’ and ‘orienting action-guidance’ – together with the conditions that must be met before we can understand such guidance as having been successfully offered. I then go on to (...)
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  • ‘Painted scenes’ or ‘empty pageants’? Superficiality and depth in (realist) political thought.Demetris Tillyris & Derek Edyvane - 2022 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 48 (9):1277-1301.
    The realist injunction to attend to the ‘realities of politics’ when we do political philosophy, though obviously appropriate, is highly platitudinous. By drawing on the underappreciated realist insights of Isaiah Berlin, Stuart Hampshire and Hannah Arendt, we elaborate a neglected distinction between two antagonistic conceptions of political reality – the realism of surface and the realism of depth – and consider its implications for the recent realist turn. We illustrate how that distinction reveals some neglected tensions and incoherencies within contemporary (...)
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  • ‘Painted scenes’ or ‘empty pageants’? Superficiality and depth in (realist) political thought.Demetris Tillyris & Derek Edyvane - 2022 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 48 (9):1277-1301.
    Philosophy & Social Criticism, Volume 48, Issue 9, Page 1277-1301, November 2022. The realist injunction to attend to the ‘realities of politics’ when we do political philosophy, though obviously appropriate, is highly platitudinous. By drawing on the underappreciated realist insights of Isaiah Berlin, Stuart Hampshire and Hannah Arendt, we elaborate a neglected distinction between two antagonistic conceptions of political reality – the realism of surface and the realism of depth – and consider its implications for the recent realist turn. We (...)
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  • ‘Painted scenes’ or ‘empty pageants’? Superficiality and depth in (realist) political thought.Demetris Tillyris & Derek Edyvane - 2022 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 48 (9):1277-1301.
    The realist injunction to attend to the ‘realities of politics’ when we do political philosophy, though obviously appropriate, is highly platitudinous. By drawing on the underappreciated realist insights of Isaiah Berlin, Stuart Hampshire and Hannah Arendt, we elaborate a neglected distinction between two antagonistic conceptions of political reality – the realism of surface and the realism of depth – and consider its implications for the recent realist turn. We illustrate how that distinction reveals some neglected tensions and incoherencies within contemporary (...)
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  • Plato as a Theorist of Legitimacy.Benjamin M. Studebaker - forthcoming - International Journal of the Platonic Tradition:1-22.
    Scholars of political thought often view Plato as a ‘political moralist’, or a ‘utopian’ partly due to the Republic’s emphasis on ‘justice’. But in the Republic, Plato offers a distinctive theory of legitimacy, one that grounds legitimacy on an interdependent relationship between justice and moderation. Justice requires that the principle of specialisation be respected, while moderation requires that citizens agree about who should rule. But citizens will only agree if their ‘necessary’ desires are satisfied. Conversely, the ‘necessary’ desires can only (...)
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  • Beyond the nonideal: Why critical theory needs a utopian dimension.Titus Stahl - 2023 - Journal of Social Philosophy.
    “Ideal theorists” in contemporary liberal political theory argue that we can only arrive at a conception of what our most important political values require by reference to an imagined ideal state of affairs and that we must therefore, to some extent, engage in utopian thinking. Critical theorists, from Marx and the Frankfurt School, have traditionally been highly skeptical towards using idealizations in this way. This skepticism is mirrored by contemporary authors, such as Charles Mills. I argue that most of their (...)
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  • Not everyone can be a winner, baby: A pragmatist response to problems of contemporary ‘crisis studies’.Veith Selk, Andy Scerri & Dirk Jörke - 2022 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 48 (10):1391-1407.
    A growing genre of ‘crisis studies’ traces liberal-democratic instability to technocratic reformism and populist reaction to it. Most contributions recommend restoring economic growth, rebuilding civic culture and eschewing populist ‘us-versus-them’ narratives. This literature relies on a problematic way of thinking we label irenicism, and show to be a contemporary variant of what political realists call progressive moralizing. Irenicism portrays liberal-democracy as the product of voluntary consensus among rational individuals to sustain institutions that, by promoting endless economic growth, support universal interests (...)
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