Instability and modus vivendi

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Political theories of modus vivendi start from an assumption of deep and permanent disagreement about conceptions of the good and conceptions of justice. In response to this disagreement, modus vivendi provides an account of legitimacy as a result of a minimally restricted bargaining process. This account of legitimacy faces three major criticisms. Firstly, that the political arrangement will be unstable, secondly that a modus vivendi will institutionalise injustice, and thirdly, that it will institutionalise the status quo. I concede the objection that a modus vivendi is unstable in order to address the more serious objections that it institutionalises injustice or the status quo. Through its acceptance of instability, modus vivendi theory is no more likely than liberal theory to institutionalise injustice. Far from the conservatism it is often associated with, modus vivendi permits radical political doctrines and radical political action in a way that is precluded by mainstream liberal theory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-178
Number of pages22
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy (CRISPP)
Issue number2
Early online date30 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021

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