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Title: Analysing and evaluating political realism
Author: Kiss, Sam
ISNI:       0000 0004 6495 7012
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis analyses and evaluates political realism (realism). Realism is an account of how best to do political philosophy and politics that may be characterised in terms of four interrelated theses: the feasibility thesis, the guidance thesis, the political normativity thesis, and the statist thesis. The feasibility thesis says that we must impose certain feasibility restrictions on our aspirations, prescriptions, and standards. I argue that we should only impose realist feasibility restrictions on our limited lower-order prescriptions. The guidance thesis says that our political theories must constrain their idealisations and avoid abstract, general practical principles if they're to guide agents who must answer the political question. I argue that abstract, general practical principles and unconstrained idealisation are essential to good political guidance. The political normativity thesis says that political philosophy must source its basic substantive considerations for politics from a distinct, autonomous, and authoritative "political" normative domain. I reject it for two reasons. For one thing, the prospects for demarcating a distinct, autonomous, and authoritative political domain and devising adequate procedures for utilising its resources are very bleak. For another thing, realism fails to justify its turn to the political domain. The statist thesis says that whatever our answer to the question of how best to live alongside one another, this answer should include states. I propose that whilst it may be true that we should have states once we take relevant considerations into account, realism fails to provide us with decisive reasons for favouring them. I conclude with some thoughts on revising realism. I argue that realism stands to benefit from assuming sensible feasibility and guidance restrictions, dumping the political domain, and engaging with classical liberalism and political contractarianism.
Supervisor: White, Stuart Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available