Justice, feasibility, and ideal theory : a pluralist approach

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Mason, Andrew;
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press

A qualified pluralism is defended that recognizes value in a variety of forms of political theory and resists arguments that purport to show that one particular approach should occupy a privileged position. Against realists, it is argued that abstract analyses of politi... View more
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    19 For relevant discussion, see especially Laura Valentini, “On the Apparent Paradox of Ideal Theory,” Journal of Political Philosophy 17 ( 2009), 332-55; Colin Farrelly, “Justice in Ideal Theory: A Refutation,” Political Studies 55 (2007), 844-64.

    20 We might also distinguish between action guidance and practical relevance. Even if an ideal theory could not provide us with reasons for action here and now but is likely to provide us with reasons for action in the foreseeable future, then that would show that it has practical relevance. Indeed, if we cannot justifiably rule out the possibility that the theory will provide reasons for action in the foreseeable future, then that would seem to be enough to show that it has practical relevance.

    21 See Sleat, “Realism, Liberalism and Non-ideal Theory.”

    22 See Matt Sleat, “What is a Political Value?” this volume.

    23 See Mason, “Rawlsian Theory and the Circumstances of Politics.”

    24 Cf. Bernard Williams, In the Beginning Was the Deed (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005), 8-10.

    25 See David Estlund, “What Good Is It? Unrealistic Political Theory and the Value of Intellectual Work,” Analyse and Kritik 33 (2011): 395-416

    26 See Hamlin and Stemplowska, “Theory, Ideal Theory and the Theory of Ideals,” 52-58; Cohen, Rescuing Justice and Equality, 268. See also Adam Swift, “The Value of Philosophy in Nonideal Circumstances,” Social Theory and Practice 34 (2008): 363-87, especially 366-68; Estlund, “What Good Is It?”

    27 Edward Hall, “Political Realism and Fact-Sensitivity,” Res Publica 19 (2013): 173-81, at 174; see also 175-76.

    28 Elizabeth Anderson, The Imperative of Integration (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010), 6.

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