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Evaluating Parental PowerAn Exercise in Pluralist Political Theory$
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Allyn Fives

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781784994327

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781784994327.001.0001

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(p.243) Conclusion
Evaluating Parental Power

Allyn Fives

Manchester University Press

We have seen in this book that many political philosophers assume that, when we are faced with conflicting moral claims, the job of a political philosopher is to identify general rules to resolve such conflicts. Such an approach assumes that, when we engage in political philosophy we work out ideals in our head and then apply them directly to specific cases: we apply them ‘neat’, to use Jonathan Wolff’s terminology. Throughout this book, I have argued against such an approach. It is the case that we should do highly abstract and theoretical work, and such work does or should have generality. For instance, when I argued that paternalism as a concept was not sufficient to account for the power exercised by parents, I intended this as a general theoretical claim. At the same time, we should also be doing quite applied work, and this requires that we look closely at cases, and make decisions based on practical judgements in those cases. In doing so, I have reached conclusions about substantive issues and have made practical judgements in specific cases. In one sense, these have generality, as I have made an argument in each instance and therefore I am looking for agreement from others. The rationale I have offered in each case has been in line with the ideas of reasonableness and public justification in a context of actual disagreement, borrowed from Rawls and Nagel respectively, although with some adaptations.

Keywords:   Theoretical conclusions, practical conclusions, on practical rationality

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