Moral and Political Foundations: From Political Psychology to Political Realism

Moral Philosophy and Politics 10 (1):139-159 (2023)
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The political psychologists Hatemi, Crabtree and Smith accuse orthodox moral foundations theory of predicting what is already intrinsic to the theory, namely that moral beliefs influence political decision-making. The authors argue that, first, political psychology must start from a position which treats political and moral beliefs as equals so as to avoid self-justificatory theorising, and second, that such an analysis provides stronger evidence for political attitudes predicting moral attitudes than vice versa. I take this empirical result as a starting point to intervene in a debate in contemporary normative political theory which has, to my mind, become largely unwieldy: the political realism controversy. I advise the realists to ‘downplay’ the (thus far) inconclusive debate over realism’s metanormative standing in favour of a non-metanormative inquiry. Hatemi, Crabtree and Smith’s study makes for an excellent backdrop. It affirms the realist hypothesis that politics is in some relevant sense – a causal, psychological sense – prior to morality.



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Adrian Kreutz
New College, University of Oxford

Citations of this work

Ideology Critique Without Morality: A Radical Realist Approach.Ugur Aytac & Enzo Rossi - 2023 - American Political Science Review 117 (4):1215-1227.

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