Abstract In this thesis I tackle the question of what the normative logic of political realism is. Thus, I have two goals to accomplish. First, and foremost, I want to offer an account of what it means to be a political realist. Secondly, I want to inquire why one should be a political realist. As, for the first question, what are the defining features of a realistic political philosopher? Given that realists tend to defend a variety of positions and that they are not often systematic in their arguments, this question is not as simple as it might seem. Thus, in the first three methodological chapters I develop a possible systematic account for political realism. While I am evidently sympathetic with the tradition of political realism, my aim here is merely reconstructive. However, such rational reconstruction aims to fix a significant flaw in this tradition: a lack of clarity and structure. In the first chapter, I argue that realists rely on a specific account of reality, in the second that from this account they derive a particular view of possibility and necessity and in the third one that the most important necessities in politics are the recurrence of conflicts and the need for order. My aim here is to provide a rational reconstruction of political realism by outlining a possible consistent interpretation of its basic commitments. More specifically, Chapter 1 focuses on the notion of reality adopted by political realists. I open the chapter by introducing a preliminary discussion of the commitments a realistic political philosophy seems bound to subscribe. I then argue that a metaphysical view matching these commitments is one that links reality with causality. This view, which I call ‘effectual realism’, is partially drawn from Alexander’s dictum and the ‘ad lapidem’ argument in metaphysics, and claims that something is real if and only if it causally interacts with the world in some way. I close this chapter by observing that this view of reality is a form of metaphysical realism, because it satisfies three conditions: reality is knowable, independent from desires and independent from beliefs. These conditions, I conclude, fit very well with the idea common throughout the literature of political realism, that reality is something that resists our actions. From this causal account of reality, Chapter 2 draws a causal account of possibility and necessity. While political idealists focus on conceivability or compatibility with the world as criteria for possibility, a more realistic criterion would be one that links possibility and causality. I call this relation of realistic possibility ‘trackability’: a state of affairs is trackable if and only if there is some causal chain to move there from the actual world. I debate the implications of this view, and conclude that it allows to account for the contextual importance of the starting point, the inclination to prudence, and the focus on action. From this conception, I can derive a symmetric notion of necessity, whereby something is necessary, if there is no causal chain to avoid it. By the same argument, something is impossible, if no causal chain allows us to realize it. These two arguments can be neatly derived from effectual realism and the additional assumption that we are not omnipotent. Given that reality is independent from our beliefs and desires, and assuming that our power is limited, some states of affairs will lay beyond our ability to change. Among these necessary states of affairs, I argue in Chapter 3 that there are two, which are particularly relevant in the political sphere: the inevitability of conflict and the need for order. Conflicts, in my definition, emerge among actors with different views when one wants to impose his will against the resistance of others. Given that there is no causal chain to consistently avoid neither the different views nor the will to prevail, conflict appears a necessary feature in the sense specified in the previous chapter. The second necessary element is the need for order. As men need to feed, whether or not they want to, so they need a cooperative order, whether or not they want to. This is a weaker necessity compared to that of conflict, because it holds only conditionally. While conflicts are always inevitable and therefore necessary, order is necessary only provided that we want to survive. I conclude the chapter by suggesting that these two necessities of politics can be used as a criterion to determine whether a political theory is realistic or not. Clearly not every political realist would recognize himself in this reconstruction. ‘Isms’ are always more discordant than their adversaries believe them to be, and political realists are particularly diverse in their reflections. Thus, any unified account is likely to leave some disagreeing. This is inevitable, and thus one cannot realistically be blamed for it. Nevertheless, I think it is important to try to develop a consistent positive view of political realism. To summarize, in the first three chapters I defended the following conception of political realism: 1. Realism Reality 2. Reality Possibility and Necessity 3. Political Necessity Conflict and Order Being realist means, in this view, paying attention to reality. Paying attention to reality means identifying accurately what is possible and what is necessary. Thus, being realist means that we should acknowledge that conflict and order are the two cardinal necessities of politics. The fourth and last chapter is intended to tackle the question of why one ought to be a realist and, thus, to turn the results of the first three chapters from reconstructive into normative claims. Political realism, I argue here, offers a set of hypothetical imperatives based on the conditional assumption that one wants to realize one's own preferences. This, I maintain, provides the driving force behind normative political realism. In fact, if it is true that one wants to realize one's own preferences, then, contrary to idealism, one ought not to choose between end-states, but among courses of action. I suggest that a more realistic account of rationality is one that tempers the value of a desired state of affairs with the costs or benefits of the best available means to reach it, their likelihood of success, and the unintended consequences of one’s action. If this is how a realistically rational deliberation works, than the distinctive features of political realism I reconstructed in the first three chapters are shown to have an important normative force, as they are revealed to be the path realists point at in order for political actors to realize their preferences. In short, if you want to realize your preferences, you ought to be a realist. Differently from what I do in the previous chapters, here I try to put forward a justificatory argument for political realism. Notwithstanding this difference between the first three chapters and the last one, they all combine to provide a possible answer to my research question. If we put together the first three chapters with the conditional assumption that you want to realize your preferences, we get the following hypothetical imperatives: 1) You ought to be rational, and for realists this means that when you deliberate what is best you should not limit yourself to consider the value or disvalue of the ideal that you want to realize. Along with this, you ought to ponder the costs of the best means available to you, their likelihood of success, and the cost of their consequences. 2) You ought to acknowledge reality. This means that any descriptive theory of the world is normative for the agent, insofar as it sets the background conditions of his action. Reality determines the means he has at his disposal, his likelihood of success in reaching what he desires, and the consequences of his action. It thus gives him reasons to do something instead of something else. 3) You ought to pinpoint possibilities and necessities accurately. Reality sets the conditions of what is possible and what is necessary. Necessary states of affairs are of paramount importance for action, and political realism rightly emphasizes them. A necessary state of affairs is a state of affairs whose avoidance is impossible and thus any desire that requires that this be abandoned is unrealistic. This does not mean that there is nothing we can do in such cases. Rather, realists claim that necessities give us reasons to contain their negative consequences instead than eliminate them at their root, and to reallocate our efforts in alternative goals which can actually be reached. 4) You ought to acknowledge that the recurrence of conflicts and the need for order are necessary features of the political sphere. This is the substantive and defining claim of political realism. Any desire that requires one to be done with conflict or the need for order is unrealistic, whatever one wants. Moreover, any political theory that pays insufficient attention to this fact is bound to be of inadequate guidance in political matters. Any actor who does not satisfy these requirements risks being irrational insofar as he would be self-undermines his own preferences, whatever they are. Thus, we end up with the following claims: 0. If you want to realize your preferences, then you ought to: 1. Evaluate courses of action instead of states of affairs 2. Pay attention to reality 3. Individuate its possibilities and necessities 4. In politics, consider specifically the inevitability of conflict and the need for order In synthesis, political realism as an affirmative, analytical, normative theory would be, in my opinion, committed to these claims.
|Titolo:||THE NORMATIVE POWER OF NECESSITY. MAKING SENSE OF POLITICAL REALISM|
|Data di pubblicazione:||22-set-2015|
|Parole Chiave:||Political Theory; Political Philosophy; Political Realism; Normativity; Machiavelli; Hobbes; thucydide; Williams; Geuss; Galston|
|Settore Scientifico Disciplinare:||Settore SPS/01 - Filosofia Politica|
|Citazione:||THE NORMATIVE POWER OF NECESSITY. MAKING SENSE OF POLITICAL REALISM ; Antonella Besussi. - Milano : Università degli studi di Milano. DIPARTIMENTO DI SCIENZE SOCIALI E POLITICHE, 2015 Sep 22. ((27. ciclo, Anno Accademico 2014.|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.13130/burelli-carlo_phd2015-09-22|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||Tesi di dottorato|