Do actions speak louder than thoughts? Mentalism and normative behaviourism reconsidered

21 December 2021, 9.30 AM - 21 December 2021, 4.00 PM

Alice Baderin (Reading), David Miller (Oxford), Tariq Modood (Bristol), Nahshon Perez (Bar Ilan) and Jonathan Floyd (Bristol)

G01 Lecture Theatre, 43 Woodland Rd or online

A one-day 'hybrid' conference organised by Martin Rogard, Harvey Dryer and funded by the Political Studies Association (PSA) about a new way of doing political theory ...

After first appearing in Political Philosophy versus History? (Floyd & Stears, Cambridge University Press, 2011), Jonathan Floyd's ground-breaking arguments were given their comprehensive statement in Is Political Philosophy Impossible? (Floyd, Cambridge University Press, 2017).  Since then, these ideas have been further developed, defended, and applied in a series of articles, including 'Normative behaviourism and global political principles' (2016), 'Analytics and Continentals: Divided by nature but united by praxis?' (2016), and 'Normative behaviourism as a solution to four problems in realism and non-ideal theory' (2020).

Now the time is right to reconsider these arguments.  Is it true that political theory is fundamentally practised as a kind of 'thinking about thinking'? Is it right to say that this involves turning mental 'facts' into political 'principles'? Could we instead use facts about behaviour to grounds such principles? And what about the empirical evidence used in each argument? Do studies in 'experimental ethics' used against mentalism still hold up? And, in turn, does the social-scientific literature on insurrection and crime still support the idea that normative behaviourism leads to 'social-liberal-democracy'?

With these questions and others in mind, political philosophers of all stripes, and at all career levels, are warmly invited to take part, either in person or online in this one-day event focused on these two ideas of mentalism and normative behaviourism. 

If you would like to take part either online or in person please register at Eventbrite or contact Martin Rogard at

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