Real Realist Legitimacy

Real Realist Legitimacy

The current realist movement in political theory promises to change the way in which we approach first-order normative questions. It suggests that mainstream political philosophy is overly reliant on pre-political moral beliefs and so fails to adequately engage with the reality of politics. Politics is about the coercive provision of structuring orders rather than conforming to moral ideals, which its tools and problems may make impossible anyway. However, what difference does this make to the prescriptions that normative political philosophy aims at making? Some realists urge that political philosophers should turn their attention from the contemporary concern with the allegedly moral issue of justice to questions of the properly political virtue of legitimacy; questions of legitimacy should override the traditional contemporary concern with justice; others, noting that moral ideals are not discovered or created in political or historical vacuums, press charges of false consciousness, obfuscation and ideology on liberal-democratic thought. These arguments are clearly connected. But do those insights actually produce radically different accounts of political authority? The aim of this workshop is to move the realist current beyond methodological debates and into normative theorising, with particular attention to the issue of legitimacy and its connection to the problem of ideology. What would taking the historical specificity of political problems and the resources available to solve them mean, and how would this differ from more directly moralised accounts?

We would particularly welcome papers on the relationship between legitimacy and ideology, and their connections to justice, democracy, modernity, collective responsibility, and related topics. Please send a 300-word abstract to the addresses below.

Panel Convenors:

Rob Jubb (University College London)


Enzo Rossi (Newport)



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