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Volume 28 • Number 3

July 2014



The Pursuit of Consensus in Global Political Theory

by Peter Stone

In the face of serious and persistent disagreement, a philosopher sometimes seeks to identify claims that all sides of the disagreement accept, and demonstrate that meaningful conclusions can be drawn from those claims. By working backward to (supposedly) pre-existing agreement, the philosopher facilitates the arrival at consensus around issues that previously seemed intractable. This method might not resolve all disagreements, but it can potentially generate agreement on the most important parts of the problem under consideration.

     This pursuit of consensus is employed in all areas of philosophy, but it receives particular attention within the realm of political philosophy. Within this realm, the stakes can be quite high; political philosophers regularly address topics involving literal matters of life and death. Moreover, because political philosophy addresses questions about the conduct of collective life, people cannot simply "agree to disagree" regarding the answers to these questions, as they might with questions of aesthetics or even ethics. It is thus understandable that political philosophers, in an effort to resolve seemingly intractable disagreements around issues such as justice or freedom, should prioritize finding grounds that all parties can accept, and working from there.

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ISSN: 2152-0542