The GOODPOL Hybrid seminar Distinctively Political Normativity: Problems and Possibilities is held by Eva Erman, Professor in political science at Stockholm University.

Place: Georg Morgenstiernes hus, Seminarrom 152, University of Oslo (UiO) and Zoom.

If you wish to participate digitally, please send an e-mail to: jakob.elster [at]



In the last couple of years, what has become labelled a ‘distinctively political normativity’ has been explored by political realists. In brief, they argue that politics is an autonomous and independent domain with its own evaluative standards. The discussion about sources of normativity has raised methodological and metatheoretical questions of importance for political theory. On the one hand, realist attempts to explain the distinctness of political normativity in what we may call the very ‘structure’ of normative theorizing, i.e., in the very mode of normative theorizing, seems to have failed. There is little support for the idea that political normativity is structurally different from other practical normativity, such as moral normativity. On the other, it is a widely distributed phenomenon that political theorists rely on a normative source which is explicitly said to be political rather than moral, or at least foremost political. In light of this concern, the present paper moves beyond political realism in the attempt to explore alternative ways of understanding distinctively political normativity, which might be useful for political theorists. More specifically, we investigate two candidate views. The first traces distinctness to the ‘domain’, i.e., to the circumstances of politics. Instead of focusing on structure, the domain view – which has gained a lot of support in the literature in recent years – thus focuses on substance, such as basic political conditions. The second traces distinctness to ‘role’, i.e., the role-specific demands that normative-political principles make. We argue that the domain view is problematic but that the role view is promising.

The paper is co-written with Niklas Möller.