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Between Utopianism and Realism: The Limits of Partisanship as an Academic Methodology

Bellamy, R; (2019) Between Utopianism and Realism: The Limits of Partisanship as an Academic Methodology. Political Studies 10.1177/0032321719875947. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Taking debates about democracy in the EU as an example, Fabio Wolkenstein proposes that normative theorists should adopt a ‘partisan’ approach that engages with ‘formative agents’ to advocate for transformative political and societal change, such as the creation of a transnational democracy at the EU level. He criticises those he calls ‘democratic intergovernmentalists’ for adopting a ‘first principles’ approach that forecloses both contestation and political agency by treating the principles underlying the status quo as universal. This comment disputes both the validity of his criticisms of the work of myself and others, and the coherence of the particular partisan approach motivating them. At its heart lies a dispute as to the relationship between facts and principles, and the possibility of a utopian realism of the Rawlsean kind. It is argued that Rawls’ position proves more democratic and plausible and possesses greater critical and political leverage than Wolkenstein’s partisanship alternative.

Type: Article
Title: Between Utopianism and Realism: The Limits of Partisanship as an Academic Methodology
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/0032321719875947
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0032321719875947
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: facts and principles, utopian realism, partisanship, democracy, European Union
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10082358
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