3rd Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/

Federico Zuolo

Self-Efficacy of Normative Political Philosophy

My aim is to develop a concept of self-efficacy in normative political philosophy. Firstly, I distinguish efficacy from efficiency. By “self-efficacy” I mean the way in which a normative theory conceives the relation between itself and historical reality. Every normative theory has a set of principles considered in some way realizables. I am interested neither in the actual historical realization, nor in the dependance of the normative theory upon non-normative spheres, instead, from a theoretical point of view, I try to analize in which way the theory conceives its realization. There are three main attitudes which outline three groups in normative political philosophy facing the question of self-efficacy: i) theories that want to change reality; ii) theories that claim for a rational justification of a set of normative principles; iii) theories which are a completion of historical reality. The first group contains the revolutionary attitude and among them we can gather Plato, Machiavelli and some marxists. In the second group there are many liberals and Kant. In the third one we can put Aristotle, Hegel and the communitarians. Obviously, I have seen them only as pure types, but following this scheme we can place other philosophers in the space between the pure types. Finally, I propose a general model of self-efficacy, in which normative principles are regarded as actually realizable by an agent through a specific action, whose efficacy is theoretically justified by criteria of rational acceptability and empirical applicability.