This chapter provides an overview of how to do political philosophy. It identifies some of the main aims of the discipline, showing that one can make progress with the subject by studying arguments about the justifiability of various public policies. Political philosophers are mostly concerned with exploring the moral claims of an argument, and the relationship between an argument’s claims and its conclusion. It is here that the discipline connects to other parts of philosophy, particularly moral philosophy and logic. This chapter discusses two tools in the practice of political philosophy. One of these involves arranging arguments in clear and organized terms, and the other involves the use of examples and thought experiments in the analysis of moral claims. The chapter then discusses how to employ these tools in the service of a political argument.
William Abel, Elizabeth Kahn, Tom Parr, and Andrew Walton
Andrew Walton, William Abel, Elizabeth Kahn, and Tom Parr
Should the state permit euthanasia? Should it prohibit recreational drug use? Should it ban hate speech? Should it grant members of minority groups exemptions from otherwise universal laws? When, if ever, should it intervene in the affairs of other states to prevent human rights abuses? All of these questions have been prominent in political debate over the last fifty years, and there remains plenty of dispute about them at the start of the 2020s. Political arguments about public policy are an apt subject of philosophical analysis—or, in other words, they present a prime opportunity to do some political philosophy. This book provides an introduction to political philosophy by theorizing about public policy. Each of the chapters draws on the tools of political philosophy to explore a distinct area of public policy. Each case identifies some of the moral threads that run through the public policy debate; explains the philosophical positions taken by the various sides; introduces the academic literature that supports these positions; and examines the strengths and weaknesses of the competing views.
This chapter examines discourse analysis as an approach to the study of European integration. It first provides an overview of the basic principles underlying discourse studies before tracing its philosophical roots. It then considers when and how discourse studies entered political science, international relations, and European integration studies. It explores three examples of bodies of work that have each operationalized discourse (analysis) in a particular way in order to make it speak to European integration: the first covers governance and political struggle; the second approach posits the discursive configuration of concepts of nation, state, and Europe as layered structures able to explain foreign policy options for a given state; and the third focuses on the project of European integration as a productive paradox. The chapter concludes with a case study on the mediatization and politicization of the refugee crisis in Austria from 2015-2016 by discussing the application of discourse analysis to the nature of the European Union enlargement process.