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Playing Kant at the Court of King Arthur

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Abstract

This article contrasts the sense in which those whom Bernard Williams called ‘political realists’ and John Rawls are committed to the idea that political philosophy has to be distinctively political. Distinguishing the realist critique of political moralism from debates over ideal and non-ideal theory, it is argued that Rawls is more realist than many realists realise, and that realists can learn more about how to make a distinctively political vision of how our life together should be organised from his theorising, although it also points to a worrying tendency among Rawlsians to reach for inappropriately moralised arguments. G. A. Cohen's advocacy of socialism and the second season of HBO's The Wire are used as examples to illustrate these points.

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