Ideal theory

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


There is a particular kind of ideal theory that does not work: namely, theorizing about ideally just worlds. Such theorizing fails to bear on what we have reason to regard as an ideal response here and now, and instead bears only on what would be ideal if we were to depart far enough from the human condition as it really is. An alternative kind of ideal theory, realistic idealism, is more useful: namely, theorizing about ideal responses to a sober assessment of circumstances that demand a response here and now. Where there are facts, where facts are subject to change in ways that matter, and where there is something we can do, we have a problem. Where there are problems, there can be objectives. Where there are objectives, there can be theorizing with a point.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Distributive Justice
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780199645121
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Bernard williams
  • Compliance problem
  • Ideal justice
  • Justice
  • Mutual advantage
  • Political idealism
  • Political moralism
  • Political realism
  • Utopia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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