De staat van de politieke filosofie | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 107, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 0002-5275
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1244




In this article we attempt to do what is by definition impossible: providing a complete picture of the discipline of political philosophy today. We start by presenting the three thematic subfields in which most research seems to be taking place: democracy (including such topics as deliberation, representation, radical democracy, republicanism, and populism), justice (which covers such diverse topics as capabilities, intergenerational justice, and linguistic justice), and what we call the ‘postnational constellation’. This latter subfield in particular is growing ever larger. The context of globalization increasingly urges political philosophers to reformulate all classical questions about democracy and justice, as is visible in discussions about global justice, governance, cosmopolitanism, federalism, or the ‘commons’. After surveying the main themes of contemporary political philosophy, we discuss a number of methodological evolutions and controversies. We look for instance at the role of intellectual-historical research; not only does the quality and the quantity of such research continue to rise, it is also well-connected to contemporary debates and clearly inspires and refines these debates. Most attention, though, is given to the ongoing confrontation between ‘normative’ political theorists and so-called ‘realists’. The former believe that political philosophers should not just contemplate social and political reality, but should also propose guidelines for the (re)design of social institutions, and should maybe even actively contribute to realizing these proposals. ‘Realists’, by contrast, believe that political philosophy, as a branch of philosophy, should aim for insight in the dynamics of political action, in human relations and motivations as they become visible in politics, and in the role of the political sphere in society. We conclude our article with a critical note on the incompleteness of our survey.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): democracy; globalization; justice; metaphilosophy; political philosophy; realism
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