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Articulating virtue: Planning ethics within and beyond post politics

McClymont, Katie



© The Author(s) 2018. Post-foundationalist political theories have provided some of the most radical tools of critique in recent years. As well as challenging the dominant orthodoxy of achieving consensus in decision-making, they give voice to claims that the world can be conceived differently than how it is expressed in contemporary neoliberal hegemony by the reassertion of disagreement as fundamental to democratic politics. However, this conflict itself is a means not an end: it provides the intellectual tools to dissemble the dominant qua hegemonic version of contemporary society and its concomitant framing of values, but it does not provide a way in which to assess the validity of any counterclaims to the contemporary hegemony. Post-foundationalist approaches can critique the status quo for its practice and ontology, but do not offer substantive grounds for an alternative. This is of particular importance for planning as an outcome-based activity; engaging daily with ideas of better or worse developments. If planning is to be conceived as ‘the art of situated ethical judgement’, questions of value judgement are central to any theoretical conceptualisation or critique. The article develops this argument by considering the contribution that Alasdair MacIntyre’s ethical and political thought could make to this debate. MacIntyre’s notion of virtue ethics demonstrates how ethical judgement can be made without the need for an enlightenment foundationalist ontology to underpin its claims. The article demonstrates how this approach allows for new ways of thinking through the ethical questions implicit in much of the post-foundationalist critiques of planning practice and, in turn, offers a situated way of judging outcomes, which is not constrained by the post-political condition.


McClymont, K. (2019). Articulating virtue: Planning ethics within and beyond post politics. Planning Theory, 18(3), 282-299.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 26, 2018
Online Publication Date May 4, 2018
Publication Date Aug 1, 2019
Journal Planning Theory
Print ISSN 1473-0952
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 3
Pages 282-299
Keywords ethics, post-political, MacIntyre, virtue, conflict
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the author's accepted manuscript. The final published version is available here:


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