Doing Realist Political Theory

Conference at the Centre for Advanced Study in Bioethics

We do not live in an ideal world. So shouldn't political theory also allow itself a pinch of realism? Not whether but how this could actually work in practice will be discussed at a conference from 4 to 6 July 2018.

The conference will take place in the Freiherr-vom-Stein-Saal of the Freiherr-von-Vincke-Hauses (Domplatz 36). Participation is free of charge to anyone interested. However, registration is required due to the limited capacity. Please send your registration inquiry to by 29 June 2018 at the latest.


Doing Realist Political Theory

There has been a lot of talk about realism but rather less work that explicitly does realist political theory. Our aim in this conference is to explore what realist political theory might look like through actually doing it.

We presuppose neither a particular view of realist political theory nor hold any preconceptions about how it should be done. There is no ‘party line’ and no preference for one strand or interpretation of realism over another. Indeed, one of our principal interests is the potential diversity of kinds of theorising that could be described as ‘realist’.

However, we would like to move beyond commentaries on Williams, Geuss or other figures in the realist pantheon, unless such commentaries are also closely connected to showing how realist political theory can advance beyond the explication and refinement of what are by now quite familiar arguments. Contributions show how the agenda of realist political theorising stimulates engagement with new or neglected aspects of politics, discuss what it means to ‘realistically’ theorise subjects that have been dealt with mainly in ‘ideal’ political theory, or in other ways explore new possibilities of doing realist political theory.



Wednesday, 4 July 2018
10:00 Welcome
10:15 – 11:15 Political Theory and Political Populism
Theresa Scavenius (Aalborg)
11:15 – 12:15 Uses of Realistic Political Theory
Gulsen Seven (Bilkent)
13:30 – 14:30 Realism, Authority and Disobedience
Robert Jubb (Reading)
14:30 – 15:30 (Post-)Truth and Politics
Matt Sleat (Sheffield)
16:00 – 17:00 The Political, the Social, and Realist Assessments of the Status Quo
Manon Westphal (Münster)
17:00 – 18:00 The Continuity of Ethics and Political Theory
Alice Baderin (Oxford)
Thursday, 5 July 2018
9:15 – 10:15 Realist Legitimacy and the Demand for Legitimation
Janosch Prinz (Norwich)
10:15 – 11:15 Evidence-based Political Theory
Ulrich Willems (Münster)
11:45 – 12:45 Realist Political Theory and the Feasibility Issue
Greta Favara (Milano)
14:00 – 15:00 Can an Action Ground a Principle?
Real Behavior as a Guide to Realist Politics
Jonathan Floyd (Bristol)
15:00 – 16:00 Political Naturalism: Legitimate Coercion Without Sovereignty
Enzo Rossi (Amsterdam)
16:30 – 17:30 From Conflict to Compromise
Edward Hall (Sheffield)
17:30 – 18:30 May Political Parties Refuse to Govern?
A Look at the FDP in the 2017 Coalition Talks in Germany
Fabian Wendt (Orange)
Friday, 6 July 2018
9:15 – 10:15 Political Realism & Climate Change: Setting the Agenda
Thomas Fossen (Leiden)
10:15 – 11:15 The Party Platform as a Moral Idea(l)
Daniel Weinstock (Montreal)
11:45 – 12:30 Final discussion