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Political Theory > COMPROMISE > About


Modern society is characterized by disagreement and pluralism, and it is largely this fact that makes politics necessary. In the contemporary world, political institutions and laws must coordinate the actions of millions of people who disagree at many different levels.

Liberal thinkers have traditionally focused on disagreement on conceptions of the good and more recently on disagreement on justice. But disagreement might also concern facts: Is global warming caused by human activity? Or means: Which institutions best secure freedom of religion? What are the best means for protecting the climate? And when we agree on fundamental aims, e.g. protecting human rights or the climate, we often disagree on which institutions at the national and international level should promote them: How should the three branches of government relate to each other? Which role should international or global institutions have? Thus, a political theory that aims to be realistic in terms of beginning from the fact of disagreement cannot merely see disagreement as a result of human self-interest, nor should it see disagreement merely as a matter of disagreement on ends or justice. Citizens disagree in good faith at many different levels – and so do political theorists and philosophers.

COMPROMISE is a research project that investigates the meaning, use and value of compromises in political theory and real politics. Considering political compromises inherently valuable in democratic decision-making, the ambition of this project is to provide a framework for a deeper understanding and evaluation of political compromise-formation. Beginning from the fact of disagreement and the need for principles for compromise-formation, the project contributes to contemporary debates in the international literature on how to do normative political theory that takes political realities seriously. Hence, the overall aim of the project is to gain a better understanding of the interplay of the formulation and promotion of ideals, on the one hand, and a political reality characterized by disagreement and the need for compromise, on the other hand.