The Importance of Dystopian Hypotheticals: Towards an Ethical Turn in Liberal Political Philosophy
This paper argues that liberal philosophy underestimates the importance of political ethics, which I define as the question of how individual citizens should comport themselves politically under largely normal conditions. Using three case studies from popular dystopian science fiction as ‘intuition pumps’, I contend that the behaviour of such individuals, both discretely and collectively speaking, has significant causal potency when it comes to contemporary politics. Upon this basis, I diagnose as pathological the faith that liberal philosophers place in the power of institutional arrangements to curtail human behaviour. I conclude that liberal philosophy should embrace an ‘ethical turn’, in pursuit of which I make some indicative recommendations as to what such a development might comprise.