What Makes a Political Theory Political? A Comment on Waldron
14 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2017
Date Written: August 8, 2017
This essay considers Jeremy Waldron’s recent contribution to a growing conversation about how to make political theory and philosophy more responsive to real politics—Political Political Theory (2016)—in light of his broader body of work, especially Law and Disagreement (1999). I argue that rather than providing a genuine alternative to the idealization and abstraction characteristic of what Waldron labels the “justice industry,” he uses the concept of what counts as properly “political” to grant nearly absolute priority to a certain class of concerns over others. This strategy places him in the company of a long line of liberal theorists, but it does not necessarily make his theory more political than its rivals. His alternative simply focuses its idealization and abstraction on the ideal of legitimacy rather than justice.
Keywords: realism, legitimacy, justice, Jeremy Waldron
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