The Professional Responsibilities of the Political Theorist

Michael Freeden

in Liberalism as Ideology

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199600670
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738203 | DOI:
The Professional Responsibilities of the Political Theorist

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This chapter traces the intellectual trajectory of the author from analysing liberal thought, through exploring the structure and meaning of ideologies, to investigating the actual thought practice of thinking politically. It then considers five responsibilities of political theorists towards their profession: relevance, understanding, inclusiveness, critical distance, and tentativeness. Relevance refers to the relationship of political thinking to the real world, to the accessibility of political theory to ordinary people, and to incorporating the vernacular. Understanding refers to the quest for interpretative complexity and for regularities of thinking through decoding political thought. Inclusiveness refers to studying of all forms of political thinking impartially, as well as penetrating disciplinary boundaries. Critical distance alludes to the ability to assess one’s own perspectival shortcomings, and to the level of magnification employed in illuminating an issue. Tentativeness relates to flexibility in assessing one’s findings, awaiting contrary interpretation. These five responsibilities are applied to previous chapters.

Keywords: political thinking; liberalism; ideology; professional responsibility; relevance; understanding; inclusiveness; critical distance; tentativeness

Chapter.  8828 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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