Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 215-225

First online:

Contextualism Reconsidered: Some Skeptical Reflections

  • Chandran KukathasAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, University of Utah

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A number of theorists have touted the merits of the contextual approach to political theory, arguing that a close examination of real-world cases is more likely to yield both theoretical insight and practical solutions to pressing problems. This is particularly evident, it is argued, in the field of multiculturalism in political theory. The present paper offers some skeptical reflections on this view, arguing the merits of a view of political theory which sees the contextual approach as less distinctive than its proponents imagine, and less useful than many would suggest. It maintains that there are serious limits to what political theorists can achieve, even if political theory is not without its uses if we value social criticism.

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