Iasi: Institutul European (2016)
AbstractThis book advances an examination of the main arguments and counter-arguments put forward by the advocates of realism in political philosophy in support of the two methodological theses they defend: 1) that political philosophy is not and cannot be understood (just) as a branch of ethics or as „applied moral philosophy” (as moderate realists claim); and 2) that political philosophy should be done completely “outside ethics”, i.e., that it should stop using arguments based on “pre-political” moral principles or values (as radical realists claim). The book pleads for four main conclusions: 1) that radical realism is nothing but moralism in disguise and that its methodological request – giving up moral principles or values in political philosophy – is „unrealistic” (unfeasible), as long as no plausible (i.e., egalitarian) account of political legitimacy or authority can be grounded without appeal to the principle of basic human equality or the principle of treating people as (free and) equals; 2) that political philosophy is not quite accurately described as a branch of ethics, as moralist political philosophers usually do, but this is not because of the reasons usually offered by moderate realists, but because political philosophy includes at least one project that cannot be unquestionably subsumed to this characterization (i.e., the project of the purely epistemic justification of liberal democracy); 3) that moralism is a methodology that political philosophy is perfectly justified to use and no (radical) realist counter-argument touches its validity and necessity; and 4) that all objections brought in the realists’ crusade against moralism are not tenable (most of them being the fruit of serious misunderstandings or distortions of the positions the philosophers accused of this “methodological vice” endorse, the result of sophistic reasoning or of confusions, such as the confusion between political philosophy and political science, between normative and descriptive, between political philosophy and motivational speech for citizens or politicians, or the confusion between moralism as a methodology of political philosophy – or as a thesis about the proper methodology of political philosophy – and moralism as a theory or an evaluative practice concerning politics and political behavior). The four conclusions can be synthesized in the general conclusion that realists – be they radical or moderate – are wrong when they argue (and believe they have good reasons for the thesis) that political philosophy is not (just) a branch of ethics or for the thesis that it should be done completely “outside ethics”. The most central questions of political philosophy are, in their overwhelming majority, moral questions (about the political). In addition, the recourse to “pre-political” moral principles or values is imperative and inescapable for political philosophy. Therefore, political philosophy has no other option than remaining what, essentially, it has ever been: an area of moral philosophy, a discipline whose research interests are continuous with those of ethics. As its title suggests, this book can be described, as well, as a (new) defence of this general conclusion concerning the specific of and the path to follow by political philosophy.
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