David Hume och realismen inom politisk teori

Dags för återstart av bloggen.

Den här terminen skriver jag en masteruppsats i statsvetenskap. Uppsatsen handlar om ”realism” inom modern politisk teori (som jag skrivit om här och här), och tanken är att värva David Hume som historisk portalfigur för denna riktning.

Låt mig saxa ur uppsatsplanen:

In recent years there has formed a loose movement of political theorists who are united by their critique of the dominant mode of conducting political theory. They all criticize a large part of contemporary political theory for being, in different ways, ”unrealistic”. Their targets are the likes of Rawls and Dworkin and other practitioners of a mode of political theory that stem from Kant. The critics of this approach, while clearly writing from different perspectives, have enough in common to warrant a common label. This, at any rate, is argued by Richard North, editor of a recent special issue of European Journal of Political Theory devoted precisely to ”realism” in political theory (North 2010).

The starting point of this paper is a hunch that David Hume’s moral and political philosophy may actually provide the disparate school of realist theorists with a common historical predecessor and source of arguments and ideas.

The purpose is thus to bring out the connections between the recent movement toward ”realism” in the field of political theory and the moral and political thought of David Hume, and thereby to show how a kind of ”humean” mode of political theory might be a viable and attractive alternative to the kantianism which dominates contemporary political theory.

This purpose will be pursued by trying to answer two separate questions:

– To what extent and in what way does Hume’s political philosophy provide arguments and support to the realists’ critique of contemporary political theory?

– Is it possible to find in Hume’s thought some answers to the theoretical problems that face the realist approach itself?

The structure of the paper is the following: Chapter 1 begins with (1.1) a description of the movement in contemporary political theory called ”realism”, such as it is advocated by Bernard Williams (2005) , Raymond Geuss (2008) and William Galston (2010). Then in (1.2) the key realist critique is further elaborated, and the contemporary debate on ideal vs non-ideal theory is introduced. The chapter ends with (1.3) a description of what will be called ”a challenge for realism”. The challenge concern the possibility of steering a middle course between ”moralistic” liberalism on the one hand and accounts of politics that ”sit rather too comfortably with Machiavelli and Hobbes” (North 2010, 384) on the other. Chapter 2 will relate the debate presented in (1.2) to the political thought of Hume. Chapter 3 will relate the challenge presented in (1.3) to the political thought of Hume.

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