Bernard Williams and the possibility of a realist political theory

European Journal of Political Theory 9 (4):485-503 (2010)
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This article explores the prospects for developing a realist political theory via an analysis of the work of Bernard Williams. It begins by setting out Williams’s theory of political realism and placing it in the wider context of a realist challenge in the literature that rightly identifies several deficiencies in the liberal view of politics and legitimacy. The central argument of the article is, however, that Williams’s political realism shares common features with liberal theory, including familiar normative concerns and a consensus view of the political and political legitimacy, which results in it replicating rather than overcoming the weaknesses that other realists have recognized in liberalism, thereby making it vulnerable to the same criticisms. Though these are taken to be significant problems for Williams’s theory, the purpose of making this argument is not to undermine the prospects for a realist political theory but to indicate obstacles and difficulties that any compelling account will need to address



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Realism, Utopianism, and Radical Values.Paul Raekstad - 2018 - European Journal of Philosophy 26 (1):145-168.

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References found in this work

Realism in political theory.William A. Galston - 2010 - European Journal of Political Theory 9 (4):385-411.
Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline.Bernard Williams - 2006 - Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Philosophy as a humanistic discipline.Bernard Williams - 2000 - Philosophy 75 (4):477-496.
On the Genealogy of Morality.Friedrich Nietzsche, Keith Ansell-Pearson & Carol Diethe - 1995 - Journal of Nietzsche Studies 9:192-192.

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