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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.

Published: 2022-11-14
Pages:60 to 80
Section: Symposium: Jurisprudence of the Future
How to Cite
Green, Alex. 2022. “The Importance of Dystopian Hypotheticals: Towards an Ethical Turn in Liberal Political Philosophy”. Law, Technology and Humans 4 (2):60-80.

Author Biography

University of York
United Kingdom United Kingdom

Alex Green is a Lecturer at the York Law School, University of York, in the United Kingdom. He writes on public international law, legal and moral philosophy, and political theory. His forthcoming monograph, Statehood as Political Community: International Law and the Emergence of New States (Cambridge University Press, 2023) provides an interdisciplinary account of statehood within the international legal order. Other pieces of his research have appeared in the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, the Australian Year Book of International Law, and the German Law Journal. His work has been funded by the Modern Law Review and the Hong Kong Research Grants Council. Alex has held visiting positions at the University of Cambridge and the University of Leeds, and is an Academic Associate of 23 Essex Street Chambers (London and Manchester, United Kingdom).

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2652-4074