There are two starkly opposed views on the proper relationship between academic research and political activism. The first argues that, like civil servants, scholars must remain politically neutral. The second argues that academics can and should also be political activists. Given that normative political theory necessarily takes positions on political matters—and hence cannot qualify as neutral—it might seem that political theorists must side with the scholar-activists in this dispute. This paper argues that such a conclusion is mistaken, and that political theory at its best embodies an ethos that is different from those typically advocated by either scholar-activists or scholar-“neutralists.” Normative political theory cannot be neutral and need not be impartial, but it should be objective, at least in one important sense of the term. This form of objectivity involves an openness to “inconvenient” considerations and skepticism toward wishful thinking. I conclude that scholars, activists, and scholar-activists alike would all benefit from this ethos of objectivity.
|Number of pages||36|
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2020|
|Event||2020 European Consortium for Political Research General Conference - Online|
Duration: 24 Aug 2020 → 28 Aug 2020
|Conference||2020 European Consortium for Political Research General Conference|
|Abbreviated title||ECPR 2020|
|Period||24/08/20 → 28/08/20|