Is Political Philosophy Impossible?: Thoughts and Behaviour in Normative Political Theory (Contemporary Political Theory)

Is Political Philosophy Impossible?: Thoughts and Behaviour in Normative Political Theory (Contemporary Political Theory)

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Jonathan Floyd
Cambridge University Press, 9/7/2017
EAN 9781107450523, ISBN10: 1107450527

Paperback, 288 pages, 22.8 x 15.2 x 1.7 cm
Language: English

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.

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
6. Overview
7. Three questions
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
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.