The Importance of Dystopian Hypotheticals: Towards an Ethical Turn in Liberal Political Philosophy

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This paper argues that liberal philosophy underestimates the importance of political ethics, which I define as the question of how individual citizens should comport themselves politically under largely normal conditions. Using three case studies from popular dystopian science fiction as ‘intuition pumps’, I contend that the behaviour of such individuals, both discretely and collectively speaking, has significant causal potency when it comes to contemporary politics. Upon this basis, I diagnose as pathological the faith that liberal philosophers place in the power of institutional arrangements to curtail human behaviour. I conclude that liberal philosophy should embrace an ‘ethical turn’, in pursuit of which I make some indicative recommendations as to what such a development might comprise.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-80
Number of pages21
JournalLaw, Technology and Humans
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

© The Author/s 2022


  • Law and Popular Culture
  • Political Philosophy
  • Liberalism
  • Hannah Arendt
  • Populism
  • Political ethics

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