Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Political Philosophy versus History?
Contextualism and Real Politics in Contemporary Political Thought

Jonathan Floyd, Marc Stears, Paul Kelly, Bruce Haddock, Gordon Graham, Iain Hampsher-Monk, Melissa Lane, Andrew Sabl, Bonnie Honig
View all contributors
  • Date Published: August 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521146883


Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

Please email to enquire about an inspection copy of this book

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Is the way in which political philosophy is conducted today too ahistorical? Does such ahistoricism render political philosophy too abstract? Is political philosophy thus incapable of dealing with the realities of political life? This volume brings together some of the world's leading political philosophers to address these crucial questions. The contributors focus especially on political philosophy's pretensions to universality and on its strained relationship with the world of real politics. Some chapters argue that political philosophers should not be cowed by the accusations levied against them from outside of their own field. Others insist that these accusations require a dramatic reshaping of normative political thought. The volume will spark controversy across political philosophy and beyond.

    • Provides a thorough overview of a major debate in contemporary political philosophy and will be a direct point of reference for students and senior scholars
    • Presents new essays from leading scholars in the field for a wide variety of perspectives
    • Enables students to access state-of-the-art arguments in political philosophy and to use a single book rather than search journals for a wide variety of views
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'This volume is a welcome addition to the literature on the methodologies of the history of political thought and political philosophy. All the essays are of top quality and are written by contributors with an international reputation in the field. Variety in content and argument gives a sense of genuine debate and suggests new perspectives on the central issues under discussion.' Jeremy Jennings, Professor of Political Theory, Queen Mary, University of London

    'For almost half a century, philosophers and historians have disputed the ownership of political thought. Like many territorial battles, this one has been fought on uncertain terrain, with poorly marked boundaries. Political Philosophy versus History? brings a very welcome clarity to the issues at stake. If it does not settle all the issues, it enables the reader to identify them much more clearly than hitherto. The essays are marked by deep learning, lucidity, meticulousness, and a welcome concern to do justice to all sides of an often contentious debate.' Alan Ryan, Professor Emeritus of Political Theory, University of Oxford

    'The contributors to Floyd and Stears' Political Philosophy versus History? engage in a series of spirited inquiries into the relationship between political philosophy and history. In so doing they mount challenges to 'contextualism' and assess the possibilities and prospects for a distinctly 'realist' mode of theorizing that is at once historically situated and normatively grounded. The essays collected here challenge, and will likely change, the terms of contemporary debates about the character and condition of political theory in our time.' Terence Ball, Professor, School of Politics and Global Studies, Arizona State University

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2011
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521146883
    • length: 240 pages
    • dimensions: 226 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.36kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction Jonathan Floyd and Marc Stears
    1. Rescuing political theory from the tyranny of history Paul Kelly
    2. From contextualism, to mentalism, to behaviourism Jonathan Floyd
    3. Contingency and judgement in history of political philosophy Bruce Haddock
    4. Political philosophy and the dead hand of its history Gordon Graham
    5. Politics, political theory, and its history Iain Hampsher-Monk
    6. Constraint, freedom, and exemplar Melissa Lane
    7. History and reality Andrew Sabl
    8. The new realism Bonnie Honig and Marc Stears
    Afterword Jonathan Floyd.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • History of Political Thought
    • Intro to Political Philosophy
    • Political Theory
  • Editors

    Jonathan Floyd, University of Oxford
    Jonathan Floyd is a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, and Research Fellow in Political Theory at St Hilda's College. He was previously a Fellow of the Centre for Political Ideologies and a Research Scholar at University College, University of Oxford. He has written widely on both the nature of political philosophy and on its relationship with history.

    Marc Stears, University of Oxford
    Marc Stears is Fellow in Politics at University College, Oxford, having previously been Fellow in Social and Political Sciences at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He is the author of Demanding Democracy: American Radicals in Search of a New Politics (2010) and Progressives, Pluralists and the Problems of the State (2002), as well as joint editor of Political Theory: Methods and Approaches (2008). He is well-known for his research on methodology in the history of political thought and for innovative approaches to the study of political ideologies.


    Jonathan Floyd, Marc Stears, Paul Kelly, Bruce Haddock, Gordon Graham, Iain Hampsher-Monk, Melissa Lane, Andrew Sabl, Bonnie Honig

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.