The Normative Role of Utopianism in Political Philosophy

New Thinking 2 (1) (2004)
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Abstract
The thesis of this paper is that utopianism is a theoretical necessity—we couldn’t, for example, engage in normative political philosophy without it—and, further, that in consciously embracing utopianism we will consequently experience an enrichment of our political lives. Thus, the title of my paper has a double meaning: it highlights the fact that utopianism always plays a normative role in political philosophy, as its concern is inevitably the promotion of a certain vision of the good life; and secondly it suggests that there normatively ‘ought to be’ a recognized and respectable role for utopianism within political philosophy. The first meaning, I believe, is self-explanatory. Regarding the second, it expresses my hope to— in short— take what is old, and through a modest process of rehabilitation, make it new again.
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