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Methods in Political Philosophy

Political Methodology
Political Theory
Analytic
Methods
Ethics
Normative Theory
S35
Jonathan Floyd
University of Bristol
Keith Dowding
Australian National University


Abstract

Debates about ‘method’ in political philosophy have become ever more important in recent years, as driven by, inter alia, the ideal/nonideal theory debate (O’Neill, Stemplowska, Valentini), the moralism/realism debate (Williams, Geuss, Sleat & Rossi), the facts/principles debate (Cohen, Miller, Ronzoni), and the practice dependence/independence debate (James, Sangiovanni). It is with these and others in mind that we have organised a section of five panels this year, building on the great success we have had in recent years with our very well attended sections in Prague (2015), Oslo (2016), and Hamburg (2017). Alternative Approaches to Political Philosophy Different approaches to political philosophy can co-exist in various ways. Sometimes they compete with each other; sometimes they co-operate with each other; and sometimes they are happy to live completely separate lives. This panel brings several key recent approaches together, including contextualism and practice-dependence, with a view to advancing conversations about their differences, similarities, and possible divisions of labour. Ideal and Nonideal theory The ideal/nonideal theory debate has become an established and important part of the methodological literature in political philosophy. This panel focuses on several issues that have been relatively neglected in the debate so far, including democratic legitimacy, ideal 'storytelling', and the distinction between feasibility and possibility. Moralism and Realism The moralism/realism debate has always combined at least three things: (1) interpretations of key realist figures; (2) discussions of the general nature of realism; and (3) applications of realism to various important political problems. This panel brings together new work on all three fronts. Reflective Equilibrium and Intuitions Reflective equilibrium is sometimes invoked as an ideal state of affairs, and sometimes as a method for reaching that same state. At the same time, its key 'inputs' vary according to the individual invoking it, from considered judgements, to abstract intuitions, to social-scientific facts, to wider normative theories. This panel treats reflective equilibrium as a method, and focuses in particular on the place and status of intuitions within it. The Nature of Political Philosophy Political philosophy has been defined in various ways. Sometimes, for example, it is defined in terms of particular abstract concepts, such as justice or legitimacy, and sometimes in terms of particular concrete institutions, such as the state or government. Relatedly, it is sometimes identified with a particular audience - academic political philosophers as opposed to political elites or the general public - and sometimes with a particular method - the exchange of reasons as opposed to threats or bribes, or perhaps the application of 'reflective equilibrium'. This panel brings together new work on the general nature of our subject, with a focus in particular on (1) our core method(s), and (2) our core audience(s).

Code Title Details
P014 Alternative Approaches to Political Philosophy View Panel Details
P160 Ideal and Nonideal Theory View Panel Details
P211 Moralism and Realism View Panel Details
P317 Reflective Equilibrium and Intuitions View Panel Details
P390 The Nature of Political Philosophy View Panel Details