Why Political Realists Should Not Be Afraid of Moral Values

Journal of Philosophical Research 40:459-464 (2015)
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In a previous article, we unpacked the so-called “ethics first premise”—the idea that ethics is “prior” to politics when theorizing political legitimacy— that is denied by political realists. We defended a “justificatory” reading of this premise, according to which political justification is irreducibly moral in the sense that moral values are among the values that ground political legitimacy. We called this the “necessity thesis.” In this paper we respond to two challenges that Robert Jubb and Enzo Rossi raise against our proposal. Their first claim is that our argument for the necessity thesis is question begging, since we assume rather than show that freedom and equality are moral values. The second claim is that Bernard Williams’s Basic Legitimacy Demand demonstrates the possibility of giving political legitimacy a non-moral foundation, since it allows for a distinction to be made between politics and sheer domination. We refute both claims.



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Author Profiles

Niklas Möller
Stockholm University
Eva Erman
Stockholm University

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