Just Because It’s a Phobia Doesn’t Mean You Shouldn’t Be Afraid
20 Pages Posted: 24 May 2019 Last revised: 28 Aug 2019
Date Written: May 18, 2019
This is a book symposium contribution, on David Estlund’s forthcoming Utopophobia: On the Limits (If Any) of Political Philosophy, tentatively forthcoming in Philosophical Studies. I argue – in some parts, following my “Against Utopianism: Noncompliance and Multiple Agents”, in others going beyond that paper – that despite being right about some central issues (most centrally, that a judgment that society ought to act in some way is not refuted by the fact that the society won’t), still Estlund fails to exonerate his utopianism: I argue that Estund’s arguments purportedly showing the priority of aspirational theory over concessive theory fail; I argue against Estlund’s attempts to establish the practical value of ideal theory (conceding, of course, that it may have intellectual value, and that this may be value enough); and I argue that Estlund misdiagnoses some central anti-utopian sentiments, and that those, when properly diagnosed, are well-taken. I conclude with a diagnostic hypothesis of my own – that what motivates Eslund, despite protests to the contrary, is an unsupportable optimism about humanity.
Keywords: Ideal theory, utopianism, utopia, Estlund, Utopophobia
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation