As we have seen throughout this book, contemporary political theorists use theories in different ways and for different purposes. Sometimes they use theories critically, to draw attention to particular forms of oppression or injustice that might otherwise be invisible, or to reveal the shortcomings or limitations of our current social practices and ways of doing things. At other times they use theories more constructively, to propose principles that we ought to use to govern our collective lives, or to identify the different ways in which we might understand basic political values. Behind these different uses lurk some substantive disagreements, both about what political theory ought to be and about how we ought to do it. In this short conclusion we will explore some of these disagreements, initially by examining the idea that political theory has recently experienced an ‘ontological turn’, and then by contrasting some different accounts of what political theory and political theorists should aspire to. Throughout, I will emphasise some of the objections that have been raised against ‘mainstream’ approaches to political theory, and consider some of different ways in which proponents of these approaches might respond.
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