Between Critical and Normative Theory: Predictive Political Theory as a Deweyan Realism

Political Research Quarterly, online March 7, 2016; in print, Forthcoming

31 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2016

See all articles by Samuel Bagg

Samuel Bagg

Research Group on Constitutional Studies, McGill

Date Written: March 8, 2016

Abstract

Over the last decade, a call for greater “realism” in political theory has challenged the goals and methods that are implicit in much contemporary “normative” theory. However, realists have yet to produce a convincing alternative research program that is “constructive” rather than primarily “critical” in nature. I argue that given their common wariness of a devotion to abstract principles, realists should consider adopting John Dewey’s vision of theoretical expertise as an expansive kind of prediction that engages all of our historical, scientific, and imaginative resources. After demonstrating that realists are in need of such an affirmative vision, I outline Dewey’s original proposal, and elaborate its value in contemporary circumstances as a “predictive” method for political theory that stands between familiar critical and normative approaches.

Keywords: realism, pragmatism, Dewey, method, judgment

Suggested Citation

Bagg, Samuel, Between Critical and Normative Theory: Predictive Political Theory as a Deweyan Realism (March 8, 2016). Political Research Quarterly, online March 7, 2016; in print, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2744739

Samuel Bagg (Contact Author)

Research Group on Constitutional Studies, McGill ( email )

United States

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