Political philosophy seems both impossible to do and impossible to avoid. Impossible to do, because we cannot agree on a single set of political principles. Impossible to avoid, because we're always living with some kind of political system, and thus some set of principles. So, if we can't do the philosophy, but can't escape the politics, what are we to do? Jonathan Floyd argues that the answer lies in political philosophy's deepest methodological commitments. First, he shows how political philosophy is practiced as a kind of 'thinking about thinking'. Second, he unpicks the different types of thought we think about, such as considered judgements, or intuitive responses to moral dilemmas, and assesses whether any are fit for purpose. Third, he offers an alternative approach - 'normative behaviourism' - which holds that rather than studying our thinking, we should study our behaviour. Perhaps, just sometimes, actions speak louder than thoughts.
About the Author
Jonathan Floyd is a Lecturer in Political Theory at the University of Bristol. He has written widely on questions of method and justification in political philosophy and is co-editor of Political Philosophy versus History (Cambridge, 2011).
Table of Contents
Part I. Introduction: 1. What is this book about?; 2. Synopsis of chapter one; 3. Synopsis of chapter two; 4. Synopsis of chapter three; 5. Who am I to say this?; Part II. Symptom: Interminability: 6. Overview; 7. Three questions: OQ, FQ, SQ; 8. Rawls and a few of his rivals; 9. A reassessment of the problem and a switch in literature; 10. Isaiah Berlin: from value-pluralism, to universal evils, to liberalism; 11. Rawls' second set of answers: from reasonableness to liberalism; 12. United by an ideal of democracy?; 13. United by an ideal of tolerance?; 14. Stuart Hampshire and a second argument from universal evils; 15. Joseph Raz: practical reason as a guide to political morality; 16. Alasdair Macintyre: competing traditions as a guide to morality; 17. Rorty's liberalism by redescription; 18. A variety of further responses: denial, judgement, deferral; 19. Interminability described; the impossibility thesis introduced; 20. The impossibility thesis sustained; 21. Summary of arguments and a sketch of what follows; Part III. Diagnosis: Mentalism: 22. Introduction; 23. What mentalism is; 24. Mentalism's techniques; 25. Three types of mentalist evidence and a synopsis of why mentalism fails; 26.1. The evidence for failure: impartial choices; 26.2. The evidence for failure: considered judgements; 26.3. The evidence for failure: intuitive choices of abstract principle; 27. Normative dissonance in full view; 28. Objections and clarifications; 29. The problem restated; Part IV. Cure: Normative Behaviourism: 30. Introduction; 31. Normative behaviourism: a brief sketch; 32.1. Preliminaries: facts, principles, thoughts, and behavior; 32.2. Preliminaries: reasonable objections, causes/purposes, reliable tendencies, and the case for experimental optimism; 33. An explanatory theory of social-liberal-democracy's success; 34. The relationship between normative behaviourism, psychological behaviourism, political behaviouralism, and political science more generally; 35. Reasons to be convinced by social-liberal-democracy; 36. Normative behaviourism defended against five objections; 37. Conclusions; Part V. Conclusion: 38. Overview; 39. Reiteration: out of the cave and on the way to Denmark; 40. Clarification by way of a new set of comparisons; 41. Concessions and reflections.