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The Nature of Political Theory

365 Pages · 2007 · 2.6 MB · English

  • The Nature of Political Theory

    THE NATURE OF POLITICAL THEORY This page intentionally left blank The Nature of Political Theory


    ANDREW VINCENT


    1 3


    GreatClarendonStreet,Oxfordox26dp


    OxfordUniversityPressisadepartmentoftheUniversityofOxford.


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    ©AndrewVincent,2004


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    Firstpublished2004


    Firstpublishedinpaperback2007


    Allrightsreserved.Nopartofthispublicationmaybereproduced,


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    ISBN 978-0-19-927125-2(Hbk.) 978-0-19-929795-5(Pbk).


    TypesetbySPIPublisherServices,Pondicherry,India


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    BiddlesLtd.,King’sLynn,Norfolk Preface


    Theoriginalideaforthisbookstartedlifesometenyearsago. Attheoutset, itwas


    envisagedasashorttext,butsubsequentlyitappearedvirtuallytotakeonalifeofits


    own.TheinitialseriousresearchbeganduringatwoyearfellowshipintheResearch


    SchooloftheSocialSciencesattheAustralianNationalUniversity,between1994and


    1996.MythanksgototheResearchSchool,andparticularlytoBarryHindess,who


    then headed the politics section. I am sure Barry’s perspective will differ markedly


    from my own; nonetheless, his independent critical thinking and open, friendly


    supportweregreatstimulitomyinitialreflectionsonthiswholeissue.Whilstinthe


    ResearchSchoolIranaseminarseriesoverayear, onthetheme‘WhitherPolitical


    Theory?’ManyofthepaperswerelaterpublishedinaneditedvolumeentitledPolitical


    Theory: Tradition and Diversity (1997): however, the seminars themselves were an


    additionalimpetustothinkingmoredeeplyaboutthewholeissueoftheory.Inmany


    waystheserieswas, inpart, aprefacetothepresentstudy. Mythanksgotoallthe


    participantsinthatseminarprogramme.


    After my research period in Australia, I found myself involved in a process


    of detailed administrative work at Cardiff University which slowed my research


    momentum. I sought solace in some easier writing projects. But the ideas for the


    presentworkkeptuptheirownpeculiarunderlyingintellectualmomentum.Between


    2000and2001, Iwasfortunatetobeofferedasabbaticalresearchfellowshipinthe


    Humanities Research Centre in the Australian National University, Canberra. My


    thanksalsogoheretomyoldUniversityinCardiffforthisperiodofresearchleave,


    whichallowedmetimenotonlytofinishanotherprojectonnationalism, butalso


    to return to the present topic under the excellent writing conditions provided by


    the Centre—I was thus able to complete a large proportion of the present book.


    It also enabled me to meet up again with old friends and colleagues in Canberra.


    I am especially grateful to the then Director of the Humanities Research Centre,


    IainMcCalmanandCarolineTurner(DeputyDirector)forprovidingsuchfirstclass


    friendlyandsupportiveconditions.


    In2001,IjoinedthepoliticsdepartmentatSheffieldUniversityandhavemanaged


    overmyfirstcoupleofyearstocompletethepresentbookinthemidstofnewteach-


    ingandadministrativeresponsibilities.Mythanksgotothepoliticaltheorygroupin


    thedepartment—thatis,MikeKenny,MatthewFestenstein,AndrewGamble,James


    Meadowcroft, and Duncan Kelly—for enjoyable political theory conversation and


    encouragement.Overthelastdecade,andmore,duringwhichIhavethoughtintens-


    ivelyaboutpoliticaltheory,Ihaveincurredinnumerableintellectualdebts.Therehave


    beensomanyinterestingconversationsfromwhichIhavelearnttoseepoliticaltheory


    issuesinanewlight.Mythanksgoto(tonamebutafew)EdAndrew,DavidBoucher,


    BobBrown, MariaDimova-Cookson, MichaelFreeden, MauriceGoldsmith, Knud vi Preface


    Haakonssen, DuncanIvison, BarryJones, RoyJones, RexMartin, PeterNicholson,


    RaymondPlant,AndrewSharp,VickiSpencer,PeterSutch,andDavidWest.Ihave


    alsobeenveryfortunate,inthefinalstagesofcompletingthemanuscript,tohavehad


    suchagoodeditorinDominicByattatOxfordUniversityPress.


    Myfamilyhaveprovidedvitalcompanionshipduringthiswholeperiod.Mywife


    Mary, my children Lisa, Sara, Jason, and Rachael, and their respective spouses


    Stephane, Steve, and Rebekah, my amazing grandchildren Josie, Carla, Laura, and


    ChloeandmyvaluedfriendDiana,haveallsustainedandnourishedmeintheirown


    uniqueways.


    AndrewVincent


    SheffieldUniversity Contents


    1 AnEclecticSubject 1


    Foundations 3


    TheoryandPolitics 7


    PatternoftheBook 10


    PART ONE 17


    2 WeHaveaFirmFoundation 19


    ClassicalNormativePoliticalTheory 19


    InstitutionalPoliticalTheory 28


    HistoricalPoliticalTheory 37


    EmpiricalPoliticalTheory 51


    IdeologicalPoliticalTheory 65


    Conclusion 73


    PART TWO 81


    3 FoundationsShakenbutNotStirred 83


    LogicalPositivism 84


    OrdinaryLanguage 88


    ADigressiononDeathandPutrefaction 91


    WittgensteinandEssentialContestability 95


    AReckoningwithEssentialContestability 100


    Conclusion 104


    4 BleachedFoundations 108


    TheConceptofJustice 109


    ConceptionsofJustice 111


    ProceduralTheories 113


    SocialJustice:DesertandNon-Desert 115


    JusticeandMutualAdvantage 118


    JusticeandUtility 120


    JusticeasImpartiality 124


    SexualJustice 127


    SpheresofJustice 130


    Conclusion 132 viii Contents


    PART THREE 139


    5 ShoringUpFoundations 141


    Conventions 143


    OakeshottandConventionalism 145


    Communitarianism 154


    PoliticalLiberalism 162


    Conclusion 167


    6 NewConventionsforOld 171


    Nationalism 171


    Neo-Aristotelianism 177


    Republicanism 187


    Conclusion 200


    PART FOUR 205


    7 SegmentedFoundationsandPluralism 207


    AWordaboutPluralism 209


    LiberalPluralism 211


    MulticulturalPluralism 215


    DifferencePluralism 219


    Conclusion 226


    8 StandingProblems 232


    NietzscheandtheTwilightoftheIdols 233


    HeideggerandHumanism 239


    DerridaandFoucault 242


    RortyandConnolly 250


    LyotardandtheDifferend 253


    Conclusion 257


    PART FIVE 269


    9 DialogicFoundations 271


    ThePhilosophicalContext 272


    CriticalTheory 275


    CriticalTheoryFulfilled 278


    PositivismandKnowledgeSpheres 280


    TheCritiqueofFoundationalismandtheSubject 282


    UniversalPragmaticsandFallibilism 285


    DiscourseEthicsandDeliberativeDemocracy 288


    Conclusion 290 Contents ix


    10 CircularFoundations 294


    TheHermeneuticContext 296


    Language,History,andPrejudice 297


    EnlightenmentandPositivism 301


    DialogueandFusion 303


    EthicsandPolitics 306


    ADialogicConflict 310


    Conclusion 315


    Conclusion 319


    Bibliography 327


    Index 345


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