The partisan foundations of liberal realism
in Liberal realism
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This chapter explores the ramifications for liberal theory of taking seriously the fact of political pluralism that incorporating the realist vision of politics demands. It begins by offering an account of the reasonableness of political disagreement, even radical political conflict such as the rejection of liberal values, which employs Rawls’ concept of the burdens of judgement. The following second develops this by discussing how liberal theory needs to explicitly accept that liberalism is a controversial and contested account of politics, over which persons can reasonably disagree, and, in doing so, come to recognise the deeply partisan nature of its own normative foundations. The third section then, given the accusation made of liberalism by realists that they seek to avoid, abandon or overcome politics, explores the manner in which a theory of liberal realism that accepts its own partisanship can be said to ‘affirm the political’. Finally, the chapter brings the discussion of the previous three sections together and examine the way in which liberals should conceptualise their relationship with those who endorse non-liberal political frameworks, adapting the Schmittian/agonism inspired categories of friends, adversaries and enemies.

Liberal realism

A realist theory of liberal politics


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