Abstract and Keywords
Much political philosophy seeks to identify those institutions that would be more desirable than alternatives under the ideal-theory assumption that whatever alternative is in place will command general compliance. This assumption means that the question of how likely it is that such institutions will engage prevailing incentives and command high levels of compliance is effectively assumed away. The failure to engage this question represents a potentially serious limitation on the relevance of political philosophy for real-world policy. It suggests that philosophy ought to seek something beyond the purely ideal sort of theory that is fashionable in many circles. This article provides an overview of the case for such ‘non-ideal’ theory and of its prospects. It looks at ideal theory in philosophy and at the problems it faces. It also considers the emphasis on incentive-compatibility found among economists and sketches the possibility of developing that perspective within philosophy.
Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.
If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.