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By David Leopold, Marc Stears

David Leopold, Marc Stears (eds.)

Political concept: tools and ways is without doubt one of the first books to investigate study tools in political concept and political philosophy. Drawing jointly essays by way of a exotic set of individuals, this wealthy and sundry assortment introduces scholars to some of the frequently unelaborated tools and techniques that at the moment tell the paintings of top students within the box. the choices think of how political idea could be carried out this day and in addition research the advanced and contested connections among political thought and quite a number adjoining disciplines--moral philosophy, the empirical social sciences, the historical past of political idea, the realm of "real" politics, severe social idea, and beliefs. either separately and as a set, those essays will advertise figuring out and galvanize additional debate among scholars and confirmed students alike.

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In moral and political philosophy, this has often led to a search from some kind of empirical grounding for moral 5 See A. John Simmons, Moral Principles and Political Obligations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979), chapters 3–4. 20 ANALYTICAL POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY principles. That may sound like a sensible move, but suppose I were to attempt something similar with a physical theory, looking for a way out of the circle by finding the moral grounds for the laws of nature. This kind of thing is not unheard of (‘Galileo must be incorrect’, I proclaim, ‘because the idea that the Earth is not the centre of the universe is evil’), but it is obviously pretty foolish.

Perhaps life is made easier for the political philosopher if she does not have to worry at all about empirical questions while formulating her basic principles, but that alone does not seem sufficient justification. A more compelling reason is that by allowing empirical claims to influence the way these principles are formulated, we run the risk that our political philosophy becomes too conservative, adapting itself to aspects of human existence that may be contingent, and therefore potentially alterable.

One way to test this position would be to consider more particular cases, but another is to re-examine the principle upon which the theory rests. Recall that consent theory, in its original form, drew its strength from its consistency with the larger pattern of oughts, all those other cases where a voluntary choice leads to a transfer of rights. In the revised version, however, the element of voluntarism is cast aside, for it now seems that people can ‘consent’ even if they are unaware that they are doing so, and even if the costs of not consenting would be disastrous.

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