Political ethics in illiberal regimes

A realist interpretation

Zoltán Gábor Szűcs
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The book offers a novel – Williamsian liberal realist – normative political theoretical examination of the political-ethical experience of living in illiberal regimes. Starting with a critique of the predominant mode of normative political theory (the justificatory model), the first part of the book explains why such an examination should focus on the various normative contexts which shape political agency by providing people with reasons for action (e.g. ad hoc and general reasons, political rule, membership, political regime types, political offices, and political virtues). It also explains why the main concepts referring to various regime types in comparative politics are not perfectly suitable for such an examination. It is because their normative background assumptions of comparative politics show eerie resemblances to the justificatory model. Therefore, the book offers a neo-Aristotelian alternative to them which is more compatible with a realist enterprise. The second part of the book turns to the examination of three families of political offices and how they shape political agency in an illiberal regime in their own way: the office of elected magistrates, the office of people having some independent source of authority (civil servants, policy experts, judges), and the office of citizens. The main tenet of the book is that it is possible to be critical of illiberal regimes without insisting on the justificatory model and also that it is possible to appreciate the ethical seriousness of the experience of living in illiberal regimes without finding those regimes justifiable.

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