ABOUT THIS BOOK
Is the purpose of political philosophy to articulate the moral values that political regimes would realize in a virtually perfect world and show what that implies for the way we should behave toward one another? That model of political philosophy, driven by an effort to draw a picture of an ideal political society, is familiar from the approach of John Rawls and others. Or is political philosophy more useful if it takes the world as it is, acknowledging the existence of various morally non-ideal political realities, and asks how people can live together nonetheless?
The latter approach is advocated by “realist” thinkers in contemporary political philosophy. In Value, Conflict, and Order, Edward Hall builds on the work of Isaiah Berlin, Stuart Hampshire, and Bernard Williams in order to establish a political realist’s theory of politics for the twenty-first century. The realist approach, Hall argues, helps us make sense of the nature of moral and political conflict, the ethics of compromising with adversaries and opponents, and the character of political legitimacy. In an era when democratic political systems all over the world are riven by conflict over values and interests, Hall’s conception is bracing and timely.