The masses and the elites: Political philosophy for the age of Brexit, Trump and Netanyahu

David Enoch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Recent political developments leave liberal elites heartbroken. Why is it that the masses keep making poor, morally unacceptable, irrational choices? Among the many voices heard in this context, there are also those criticising those elites from the left. The elites, these voices imply, are guilty not just of past wrongs that have gotten us here, but also of patronising the masses right now, arrogantly failing to take seriously the masses and their concerns. I argue that such complaints - perhaps appearances to the contrary notwithstanding - are every bit as patronising in their attitudes towards the masses they claim to respect, and proceed to discuss the question whether the elites should reason with the masses, or manage them (spoiler alert: both). This practical discussion leads to more theoretical ones about justification and excuse in the public sphere, practical and epistemic reasons for belief, and ideal and non-ideal theory in political philosophy.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Brexit
  • Ideal and non-ideal theory
  • Political philosophy
  • Trump


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