Applied Political and Legal Philosophy

Michelle Madden Dempsey, Matthew Lister

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review


This chapter examines three approaches to applied political and legal philosophy: standard activism, extreme activism, and conceptual activism. They differ from one another in their target audiences, how directly the arguments seek to advance change in the world, and what they take as their measure(s) of success. Standard activism is primarily addressed to other philosophers, adopts an indirect and coincidental role in creating change, and counts articulating sound arguments as success. Extreme activism, in contrast, is a form of applied philosophy directly addressed to policy-makers, with the goal of bringing about a particular outcome, and measures success in terms of whether it makes a direct causal contribution to that goal. Finally, conceptual activism (like standard activism), primarily targets an audience of fellow philosophers, bears a distant, non-direct, relation to a desired outcome, and counts success in terms of whether it encourages a particular understanding and adoption of the concepts under examination.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Companion to Applied Philosophy
EditorsKasper Lippert-Rasmussen, Kimberley Brownlee, David Coady
ISBN (Electronic)9781118869130
ISBN (Print)9781118869130
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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