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(2019) The political theory of modus vivendi, Dordrecht, Springer.

Modus vivendi as a global political morality

David McCabe

pp. 149-167

In recent years a number of political theorists, dissatisfied with what they see as a dominant but wrongheaded approach to political philosophy exemplified in what they call "liberal moralism," have endorsed a modus vivendi approach as a framework for evaluating political institutions around the globe. In this paper I discuss this approach in the face of a serious challenge that can be raised against it. The challenge is to show that as an approach to global political morality modus vivendi is both (1) essentially different from the liberal moralism it rejects and (2) normatively and conceptually compelling as a way of answering fundamental questions of political morality. To satisfy the first, global modus vivendi must avoid appealing to the parochial notions of universal norms, human nature, and human interests that are often said to mar liberal moralism. To satisfy the second, it must posit some universal moral standards of minimally decent treatment (most often, and most usefully, cashed out in the idea of human rights). In this chapter I pursue these challenges to determine whether modus vivendi is best seen as a genuine alternative to liberal moralism or instead simply as a more chastened and sensible version of that approach.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-79078-7_9

Full citation:

McCabe, D. (2019)., Modus vivendi as a global political morality, in J. Horton, M. Westphal & U. Willems (eds.), The political theory of modus vivendi, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 149-167.

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