This article makes four claims. First, that the analytic/Continental split in political theory stems from an unarticulated disagreement about human nature, with analytics believing we have an innate set of mostly compatible moral and political inclinations, and Continentals seeing such things as alterable products of historical contingency. Second, that we would do better to talk of Continental-political-theory versus Rawlsian-political-philosophy, given that the former avoids arguments over principles, whilst the latter leaves genuine analytic philosophy behind. Third, that Continentals suffer from a lack of such arguments, even by their own lights, whilst Rawlsians suffer from inconsistencies within the thought-patterns (e.g. conflicting intuitions and judgements) on which their principles depend. Fourth, that there is an alternative method – ‘normative behaviourism’ – that at least tries to move beyond the problems of both approaches, whilst sharing an idea of ‘praxis’ with the first, and an idea of deriving-principles-from-existing-judgements with the second.
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- School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies - Professor of Political Theory