Is Political Philosophy Impossible?: Thoughts and Behaviour in Normative Political Theory (2017)

Is Political Philosophy Impossible?: Thoughts and Behaviour in Normative Political Theoryby Jonathan Floyd

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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.