Res Publica

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 337–347 | Cite as

Should Political Philosophy be more Realistic?

Bell, Duncan (ed). 2009. Political Thought and International Relations: Variations on a Realist Theme. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 256 pp Bourke, Richard, and Geuss, Raymond (eds). 2009. Political Judgement: Essays for John Dunn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 368 pp
  • Jonathan Floyd
Book Review

There has been a great deal of argument of late regarding the proper relationship between politics and moral theory (Estlund 2007; Freeden 2009; Galston 2009; Geuss 2008; Gray 2007; Philp 2007; Swift 2008; Williams 2005). Whereas so-called ‘moralists’ hold that politics is subject to determinate, absolute moral rules, even if those rules are not quite the same as those applicable to matters of personal morality, ‘realists’ hold that matters are, in reality, substantially more complicated. And yet, exactly why these new realists believe things to be so complicated, and exactly whatthey think such complications entail for both political philosophy and political practice, is often unclear. It is, therefore, a most welcome fact that both of these two volumes go some way towards easing that lack of clarity, and in particular towards helping us answer three important questions, each of which looms large over realist political thought as it exists today. These are: (1) what exactly is the...


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Politics and International RelationsUniversity of OxfordOxfordEngland

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