Deadline: 01.05.2021

David Estlund’s Utopophobia – On the Limits (if Any) of Political Philosophy

Call for Papers for a Special Issue of Moral Philosophy and Politics. Deadline: May 1, 2021

Guest Editors

Philipp Schink (Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften, Bad Homburg)

Achim Vesper (Goethe University, Frankfurt)

In recent years, the discussion in political philosophy has increasingly turned to a methodological issue, namely the question whether it is appropriate to carry out studies in this field on contrafactual premises. The debate concentrates on the scope to which assumptions about practical aspects, particularly their guidingness and feasibility, have to be included in the justification of normative standards. Here, realistic, non-ideal and ideal approaches and their respective methods are critically examined for their plausibility. With his recently published Utopophobia - On the Limits (if Any) of Political Philosophy David Estlund has made an important and highly fascinating contribution to this important debate. In the book, he defends a decidedly ideal approach, subjecting the alternative realistic approaches to meticulous criticism. The central claim of the book is: „It is no defect in a theory or conception of social justice if it sets such a high standard that there is little or no chance of it being met, by any society, ever. Such a theory could nevertheless be true.“

Moral Philosophy and Politics invites contributions on how we are to think or theorize about normative requirements in politics that critically engage with the arguments or pick up themes from Estlund’s book. David Estlund has kindly agreed to respond to the comments and objections. Although Estlund’s book is very rich in its details, the following questions are of special importance for the discussion of its topic:

  • What exactly distinguishes a realistic approach from an ideal one? Is the difference really about methodology or do the different approaches rather pursue different objectives.
  • How should the practical requirements for normative political theories be conceived and what role do questions of feasibility and action-guidingness play within theories of norms in general?
  • Given that ideal approaches can be successfully pursued, is there significant value in doing so?
  • What are the different approaches to ideal theory? Does the debate between realistic and ideal approaches obstruct the debate about different types of ideal justification strategies?

Papers should be submitted by May 1, 2021 and should be between 3000 and 8000 words in length.

All submissions will undergo MOPP’s double-blind refereeing process. Please note that this process is not organized by the guest editor but by the journal’s founding editors who will also have the final word on publication decisions.

The journal’s manuscript submission site can be accessed here:

See the Call for Papers (Link)