Liberal realism

A realist theory of liberal politics

By Matt Sleat

Liberal realism


  • Hardcover
  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-0255-3
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: November 2015
  • BIC Category: Politics, Political ideologies, Liberalism & centre democratic ideologies, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Conservatism & Liberalism, POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory, Society & social sciences / Liberalism & centre democratic ideologies, Society & social sciences / Political science & theory


Political realism has recently moved to the centre of debates in contemporary political theory. In this monograph, Matt Sleat presents the first comprehensive overview of the resurgence of interest in realist political theory and develops a unique and original defence of liberal politics in realist terms. Through explorations of the work of a diverse range of thinkers, including Bernard Williams, John Rawls, Raymond Geuss, Judith Shklar, John Gray, Carl Schmitt and Max Weber, the author advances a theory of liberal realism that is consistent with the realist emphasis on disagreement and conflict yet still recognisably liberal in its concern with respecting individuals' freedom and constraining political power. The result is a unique contribution to the ongoing debates surrounding realism and an original and timely re-imagining of liberal theory for the twenty-first century. This provocative work will be of interest to students and all concerned with the possibility of realising liberalism and its moral aspirations in today's world.


Liberal Realism is an engaging, suggestive, perceptive and well-judged contribution to both the growing literature on political realism and the already vast literature on liberalism., James Wakefield, Honorary Research Fellow of Cardiff University, E-International Relations., 8 July 2015


Introduction: The resurgence of realist political theory
1. The liberal vision of the political: Consensus, freedom, and legitimacy
2. The realist vision of the political: Conflict, coercion, and the circumstances of politics
3. The realist challenge to liberal theory
4. Liberal alternatives: The liberalism of fear and modus vivendi
5. Bernard Williams and the structure of liberal realism
6. The partisan foundations of liberal realism
7. The moderate hegemony of liberal realism


Matt Sleat is a Lecturer in Political Theory at the University of Sheffield

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