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What is Political Judgment? What is Ideology? What's the Difference?

Sat, September 2, 8:00 to 9:30am, Hilton Union Square, Union Square 23 & 24


Ideology has had diverse and often incompatible formulations, both historically and in contemporary scholarship. The nature of political judgment also continues to be much debated. Yet, their relationship has surprisingly rarely been examined, despite the commonplace association they have with each other. This article seeks clarity about their relationship by reconstructing Hannah Arendt's account of them. I argue that Arendt believed ideology originates from a failure to understand the distinctive validity of political judgment. Indeed, according to Arendt, ideology results from the attempt to inappropriately attribute judgment the objective validity of truth. Thus, for Arendt there were no certain right or wrong answers to political questions. Her account of judgment instead emphasized the qualities good judgments possess—that is, impartiality and broadmindedness—rather than seeking to dictate the answers themselves.