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date: 13 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

In the 1980s and 1990s, a central debate in academic political theory was between liberals and communitarians, Kantians and Hegelians, Rawls and his critics. Bonnie Honig’s Political Theory and the Displacement of Politics (1993) disrupted this debate and argued that surface disagreements conceal an underlying consensus that the purpose of political theory is to answer, once and for all, the fundamental political questions. Drawing upon and transforming the work of Hannah Arendt and Friedrich Nietzsche, Honig argues that democracy requires attentiveness to the remainders of politics and a proclivity to contestation. To show the continuing relevance of Honig’s conception of agonistic democracy, I criticize Cass Sunstein’s account of the regulatory state for its displacement of politics, focusing on how his advocacy of fuel economy regulations occludes the political question of rethinking public transportation.

Keywords: Agonism, Bonnie Honig, Cass Sunstein, democracy, Friedrich Nietzsche, Hannah Arendt, John Rawls, Michael Sandel, the political

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