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Michael Oakeshott, antinomies, meta-politics, democratic theory, Max Weber, Hans Morgenthau, genealogy


Michael Oakeshott employed a device of argument and analysis that appears in a number of other thinkers, where it is given the name “antinomies.” These differ from binary oppositions or contradictories in that the two poles are bound together. In this discussion, the nature of this binding is explored in detail, in large part in relation to Oakeshott’s own usages, such as his discussion of the relation of faith and skepticism, between collective goal-oriented associations and those based on contract, and between a legal regime based on neutral rules and one oriented to policy goals . Other examples might include Weber’s distinction between the politics of intention and the politics of responsibility. Moreover, such ambiguous concepts as “rights,” have antinomic interpretations. In each of these cases, the full realization of one ideal led, in practice, to consequences associated with the other: in political practice, neither polar ideal was realizable without concessions to the other. But these features are rooted in the deep history of institutions. They are contingent, not philosophical. They nevertheless preclude conventional approaches to political theory

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Cosmos & Taxis, v. 6, issues 1-2, p. 54-63

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