The state of political philosophy1In this article we attempt to do what is by definition impossible: providing a complete picture of the discipline of political philosophy today. We start by presenting the three thematic subfields in which most research seems to be taking place: democracy, justice, and what we call the ‘postnational constellation’. This latter subfield in particular is growing ever larger. The context of globalization increasingly urges political philosophers to reformulate all classical questions about democracy and justice, as is visible in discussions about global justice, governance, cosmopolitanism, federalism, or the ‘commons’. After surveying the main themes of contemporary political philosophy, we discuss a number of methodological evolutions and controversies. We look for instance at the role of intellectual-historical research; not only does the quality and the quantity of such research continue to rise, it is also well-connected to contemporary debates and clearly inspires and refines these debates. Most attention, though, is given to the ongoing confrontation between ‘normative’ political theorists and so-called ‘realists’. The former believe that political philosophers should not just contemplate social and political reality, but should also propose guidelines for the design of social institutions, and should maybe even actively contribute to realizing these proposals. ‘Realists’, by contrast, believe that political philosophy, as a branch of philosophy, should aim for insight in the dynamics of political action, in human relations and motivations as they become visible in politics, and in the role of the political sphere in society. We conclude our article with a critical note on the incompleteness of our survey.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
DOI 10.5117/antw2015.4.brae
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,130
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
15 ( #697,724 of 2,506,442 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #416,997 of 2,506,442 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes