Actuality of normative political philosophy

This series of interviews is an extension of a monthly discussion forum on normative reflection in political philosophy. Hosted since 2012 by the Centre d’études sociologiques et politiques Raymond Aron (UMR 8036 – EHESS/CNRS), the Normative Political Philosophy Seminar (SPPN) focuses on the argumentative testing of contemporary philosophical reflections belonging to different traditions, all located at the frontier of the social sciences.


Indeed, the human and social sciences raise questions about the merits of one or another of our practical orientations, for example, whether property has the evidential character that is readily attributed to it, whether the arguments of counter-terrorism are compatible with the principles of our constitutions or, again, whether corruption is a necessary evil. Thus, questioning the presuppositions of the social sciences, which are sometimes also those of public policy, this forum takes the question of justification seriously.


The expression “normative political philosophy” corresponds, however, neither to a sub-discipline of philosophy nor to a specific way of practicing political philosophy. It refers to the exercise of normative thinking at work in different types of political philosophies, whether it is a matter of making explicit the norms and values underlying theories, methods and criticisms, or of accounting for the justification or lack of justification of moral or political obligations. This exercise in normative reflection was chosen as the theme of the seminar* because it is precisely on normative issues that exchanges between social science and political philosophy are most necessary and, often, most difficult. As the written and filmed interviews that we are publishing here show, these questions, which concern a wide variety of themes, testify to the interest and vitality of contemporary political philosophy.


Workshop coordinated by Luc Foisneau

With the assistance of Charles Girard, Bernard Manin and Philippe Urfalino

Video production: Serge Blérard, Bénédicte Barillé, Direction of Image and Sound (EHESS)