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Liberalism as IdeologyEssays in Honour of Michael Freeden$
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Ben Jackson and Marc Stears

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199600670

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199600670.001.0001

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The Professional Responsibilities of the Political Theorist

The Professional Responsibilities of the Political Theorist

Chapter:
(p.259) 13 The Professional Responsibilities of the Political Theorist
Source:
Liberalism as Ideology
Author(s):

Michael Freeden

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199600670.003.0014

This chapter traces the intellectual trajectory of the author from analysing liberal thought, through exploring the structure and meaning of ideologies, to investigating the actual thought practice of thinking politically. It then considers five responsibilities of political theorists towards their profession: relevance, understanding, inclusiveness, critical distance, and tentativeness. Relevance refers to the relationship of political thinking to the real world, to the accessibility of political theory to ordinary people, and to incorporating the vernacular. Understanding refers to the quest for interpretative complexity and for regularities of thinking through decoding political thought. Inclusiveness refers to studying of all forms of political thinking impartially, as well as penetrating disciplinary boundaries. Critical distance alludes to the ability to assess one’s own perspectival shortcomings, and to the level of magnification employed in illuminating an issue. Tentativeness relates to flexibility in assessing one’s findings, awaiting contrary interpretation. These five responsibilities are applied to previous chapters.

Keywords:   political thinking, liberalism, ideology, professional responsibility, relevance, understanding, inclusiveness, critical distance, tentativeness

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