Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 48, 2023

Eva Erman, Niklas Möller
Pages 149-168

The Problem of Political Normativity Understood as Functional Normativity

In recent years, some political realists have argued that there is a “distinctively political normativity” which should be used when construing and justifying political theories. Among realists focusing on a distinctively political normativity, one can identify two approaches. On the “moral view,” it is explicitly acknowledged that moral norms have a role to play in political normativity. On the “non-moral view,” distinctively political normativity is understood in terms of a non-moral kind of practical normativity. The non-moral view has received severe criticism, not least pertaining to its instrumental versions. Recently, however, Carlo Burelli has attempted to develop a realist account that is faithful to the non-moral view, but which is said to avoid the criticism directed against non-moral accounts in general, and the purely instrumental ones, in particular. Burelli offers a functional account of distinctively political normativity, according to which the function of providing binding collective decisions generates a normative standard that is independent of morality. Despite its many innovative features, however, we argue that it fails with regard to the most pressing concern, which is not whether functional normativity is genuine normativity, but whether it is the right normativity for its assigned role.