Andrew Sabl, Rahul Sagar

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review


The realist movement in political thought has until recently been defined as much by its enemies as by its theses. It has often spent more time explaining what was wrong with ideal theory than doing realist theory. This essay argues that realism is entering a new phase, constructive rather than combative. It identifies three modes of constructive or affirmative realist theory (present in this volume’s essays and elsewhere). The first focuses on feasibility; the second revisits the realist canon; and the third shows how familiar ideologies can be defended without appealing to the abstract or abstruse philosophical claims on which they are often sought to rely. The essay does not seek unity where none can be found. It counsels accepting that the family surnamed Realism is a large and nontraditional one in which splits and remarriages are not unknown and many prospective partners raise eyebrows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-275
Number of pages7
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 4 2017


  • Realism
  • feasibility
  • ideology
  • political realism
  • practice
  • realist theory
  • traditions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science


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