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Terence Ball

It is said in some quarters that political theory need not, and perhaps should not, be a “historical” enterprise. It should be concerned with discovering and articulating timeless truths or addressing “perennial problems.” Or it should be an ahistorical “analytical” study in which one aims to answer important questions definitively and once and for all. The author argues that these and other attempts to de-historicize political theory are misguided and that, indeed, political theory is inescapably historical in several senses of that term. Firstly, works of political theory are written in particular places and times by authors attempting to address particular questions. Secondly, these works are received and read by audiences in other times. And thirdly, the meanings of these works are interpreted by readers through the medium of one or another interpretive framework, which is itself historically datable. All these considerations point to the conclusion that political theory is necessarily “historical.”

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Marcelo Hoffman

Anxiety about the party form casts a long shadow over various currents of radical political theory. This anxiety is rooted in historical experiences and legacies not only among long-established communist and socialist parties in Europe but also

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Political Theory and Political Science

Can This Marriage Be Saved?

Terence Ball

The too-often unhappy 'marriage' of political theory and political science has long been a source of anguish for both partners. Should this troubled partnership be dissolved? Or might this marriage yet be saved? Ball answers the former question negatively and the latter affirmatively. Playing the part of therapist instead of theorist, he selectively recounts a number of episodes which estranged the partners and strained the marriage. And yet, he concludes that the conflicts were in hindsight more constructive than destructive, benefiting both partners in heretofore unexpected ways and perhaps paving a path toward reconciliation and rapprochement.

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Modern Revolutions and Beyond

An Interview with John Dunn

Benjamin Abrams and John Dunn

remains perhaps the most impactful piece of political theory published on the topic in the last fifty years. Though Modern Revolutions itself only received one formal English-language update, in 1989, Dunn’s theory of revolution has continued to evolve

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Alexander Weiss

“democracy to come.” Reacting to this request, this article sketches a new approach to democratic theory which emerges at the intersection of democratic theory and Comparative Political Theory (CPT). I call this approach “Comparative Democratic Theory” (CDT

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Christian Fuchs and John Collier

Economic logic impinges on contemporary political theory through both economic reductionism and economic methodology applied to political decision-making (through game theory). The authors argue that the sort of models used are based on mechanistic and linear methodologies that have now been found wanting in physics. They further argue that complexity based self-organization methods are better suited to model the complexities of economy and polity and their interactions with the overall social system.

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Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice

Democratic Theory through an Agonistic Lens

Marie Paxton

This article seeks to explore democratic theory by focusing on the example of agonistic democracy, in which contest between citizens is valued for its potential to render politics more inclusive, more engaging, and more virtuous. Using Connolly and Tully’s inclusivism, Chantal Mouffe’s adversarialism, and David Owen’s perfectionism, the article discusses democratic theory as a critique, a series of normative proposals, and a potential bridge between political theory and public policy. It is this bridge that enables democratic theory to pull together critical and normative discussions with those surrounding public policy and institutional design.

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The End of Revolution, and Its Means

Processual and Programmatic Approaches to Revolution in the Epoch of Revolution Debate

Benjamin Abrams

arguments and the conceptual nature of his principal subject matter can make it easy for us to mistake the exact nature of his claims. Because Dunn adopts a style that seems to us much more empirical in nature than a great deal of other political theory, we

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Dividing Worlds

Tsunamis, Seawalls, and Ontological Politics in Northeast Japan

Andrew Littlejohn

an opening through which to further these debates by reconsidering the ‘politics’ in political ontology. Drawing on Rancière's political theory, I have argued that ontological multiplicity becomes politicized when not only asserting but also enacting

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Book Roundtable

Discussion text: Chin, C. 2018. The Practice of Political Theory: Rorty and Continental Thought.

Lasse Thomassen, Joe Hoover, David Owen, Paul Patton, and Clayton Chin

Introduction Lasse Thomassen, Queen Mary University of London Clayton Chin's The Practice of Political Theory: Rorty and Continental Thought argues that Richard Rorty is of greater relevance to contemporary political theory than is often assumed