Full text Read free See used
Herzog, Lisa, , . Ideal and Non-ideal Theory and the Problem of Knowledge
2012, Journal of Applied Philosophy 29 (4):271-288.
Expand entry
Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Jojanneke Vanderveen

Abstract: This article analyses a hitherto neglected problem at the transition from ideal to non‐ideal theory: the problem of knowledge. Ideal theories often make idealising assumptions about the availability of knowledge, for example knowledge of social scientific facts. This can lead to problems when this knowledge turns out not to be available at the non‐ideal level. Knowledge can be unavailable in a number of ways: in principle, for practical reasons, or because there are normative reasons not to use it. This can make it necessary to revise ideal theories, because the principle of ‘ought implies can’ rules out certain theories, at least insofar as they are understood as action‐guiding. I discuss a number of examples and argue that there are two tendencies that will increase the relevance of this problem in the future: the availability of large amounts of sensitive data whose use is problematic from a normative point of view, and the increasing complexity of an interrelated world that makes it harder to predict the effects of institutional changes. To address these issues, philosophers need to cooperate with social scientists and philosophers of the social sciences. Normative theorising can then be understood as one step in a long process that includes thinkers from different disciplines. Ideal theory can respond to many of the charges raised against it if it is understood along these lines and if it takes the problem of knowledge and its implications seriously.

Comment: Helen Reviewing - Topical article engaging with the debate about ideal and non-ideal theory and the relation between these.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Full text Read free See used
Stemplowska, Zofia, , . What’s Ideal about Ideal Theory?
2008, Social Theory and Practice 34(3): 319-340.
Expand entry
Added by: Carl Fox, Contributed by:

Introduction: One of the main tasks that occupies political theorists, and arouses intense debate among them, is the construction of theories—so-called ideal theories—that share a common characteristic: much of what they say offers no immediate or workable solutions to any of the problems our societies face. This feature is not one that theorists strive to achieve but nor can it be described as an accidental one: these theories are constructed in the full knowledge that, whatever else they may offer, much of what they say will not be immediately applicable to the urgent problems of policy and institutional design. Since this may seem puzzling, and has been subjected to severe criticism, the main task of this paper is to ask what is the point of ideal theory and to show the nature of its value. I will also argue that, while the debate over the point of ideal theory can be productive, it will only be so if we avoid treating ideal and nonideal theories as rival approaches to political theory.

Comment: Does a good job of defending ideal theory from prominent criticisms and setting out an account of ideal and non-ideal theory in which they complement one another. Would work as a main text for a lecture or seminar developing the ideal/non-ideal theme, or as further reading for anyone writing about it.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Full text Read free See used
Valentini, Laura, , . Ideal Vs. Non-Ideal Theory: A Conceptual Map
2012, Philosophy Compass 7(9): 654-664.
Expand entry
Added by: Carl Fox, Contributed by: Jojanneke Vanderveen

Abstract: This article provides a conceptual map of the debate on ideal and non-ideal theory. It argues that this debate encompasses a number of different questions, which have not been kept sufficiently separate in the literature. In particular, the article distinguishes between the following three interpretations of the ‘ideal vs. non-ideal theory’ contrast: (i) full compliance vs. partial compliance theory; (ii) utopian vs. realistic theory; (iii) end-state vs. transitional theory. The article advances critical reflections on each of these sub-debates, and highlights areas for future research in the field.

Comment: Useful overview article of the ideal vs non-ideal theory debate. Lays out the territory and major concerns and offers several helpful distinctions. Would work as either a good main text for a lecture or seminar on this topic or as further reading for anyone working on it.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Can’t find it?
Contribute the texts you think should be here and we’ll add them soon!