chapter  4
16 Pages

John Gray and the Political Theory of Modus Vivendi

WithJohn Horton

It is a truism that conflict, of one kind or another, is one of the conditions that makes politics unavoidable and some form of government a necessity. However, the nature of such conflicts, how they are best understood and explained, and how they should be dealt with politically, are much more controversial questions. Within recent liberal political theory, one kind of conflict in particular, conflicts of value, have typically been regarded as presenting the central problem for political theory; and a theory of justice that can provide legitimate grounds for the process of mediating between such conflicts has seemed to some to be the holy grail of political theory. Liberal theory, especially, has been preoccupied by the task of elaborating a normative theory setting out morally authoritative principles for regulating conflicts between individuals and groups with differing values.