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'A habitual disposition to the good': on reason, virtue and realism

Pabst, Adrian (2015) 'A habitual disposition to the good': on reason, virtue and realism. Global Discourse: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Current Affairs and Applied Contemporary Thought, 5 (2). pp. 261-279. ISSN 2043-7897. (doi:10.1080/23269995.2015.1013385) (KAR id:47559)


Amidst the crisis of instrumental reason, a number of contemporary political philosophers including Jürgen Habermas have sought to rescue the project of a reasonable humanism from the twin threats of religious fundamentalism and secular naturalism. In his recent work, Habermas defends a post-metaphysical politics that aims to protect rationality against encroachment while also accommodating religious faith within the public sphere. This paper contends that Habermas’ post-metaphysical project fails to provide a robust alternative either to the double challenge of secular naturalism and religious fundamentalism or to the ruthless instrumentalism that underpins capitalism. By contrast with Habermas and also with the ‘new realism’ of contemporary political philosophers such as Raymond Geuss or Bernard Williams, realism in the tradition of Plato and Aristotle can defend reason against instrumental rationality and blind belief by integrating it with habit, feeling and even faith. Such metaphysical–political realism can help develop a politics of virtue that goes beyond communitarian thinking by emphasising plural modes of association (not merely ‘community’), substantive ties of sympathy and the importance of pursuing goodness and mutual flourishing.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/23269995.2015.1013385
Uncontrolled keywords: rationality; faith; habit; post-metaphysical politics; realism
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Adrian Pabst
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2015 21:49 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:23 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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