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All political argument employs political concepts. They provide the building blocks needed to construct a case for or against a given political position. Justifications of oppression in the name of liberty are no mere products of the liberal imagination, for there are notorious historical examples of their endorsement by authoritarian political leaders. This book explores two approaches to rights: the interest-based (IB) approach, and the obligation-based or Kantian view. Both are shown to offer coherent justifications that can avoid turning all political concerns into a matter of rights. The concept of social justice emerged in both at the start of the twentieth century, and justified institutions for the democratic modification for market outcomes, on utilitarian, maximin or common good grounds. The book explores whether people do in fact have good and justifiable reasons for complying with laws that go beyond mere fear of punishment, and, if so, whether they are bound or obligated by those reasons to comply. It discusses national ties and how they are supposed to act as glue that holds the state together in the eyes of its citizens. The book also explores the link between the weakening of states and this change in criminal policies, and outlines their implications for individual rights. Theorists have used the idea of social exclusion to advocate an approach to social justice that sees increased labour-market participation as the key to equal to citizenship. The contemporary understandings of the public-private distinction and feminist critiques of these are also examined.

Open Access (free)
Rex Martin

Most people who talk of political obligation have one thing in mind: the citizens' duty to obey the laws in their own country. This chapter discusses whether people do in fact have good and justifiable reasons for complying with laws that go beyond mere fear of punishment and whether they are bound or obligated by those reasons to comply. Socrates believed that people had a moral duty to obey the law. It is a very strict duty based on an agreement they have made. Dissatisfaction with consent theory has led political theorists to consider other possible grounds of an obligation to obey law. The arguments based on consent, on gratitude for benefits, and on fair play have been looked at in turn and each has failed. Some have concluded from this that there simply is no obligation, no moral obligation, for everyone to obey all laws in their own country.

in Political concepts
Series: Politics Today

A perfect companion to European politics today, written by the same authors, this book presents past events, prominent personalities, important dates, organisations and electoral information in an accessible, easy-to-read format. The book is split into five sections for ease of use: a dictionary of significant political events, a chronology of major events in Europe since 1945, a biographical dictionary, a dictionary of political organisations and electoral data. In addition to being a comprehensive reference tool, this book is intended to provide a sound historical background to the development of Western European politics.

Open Access (free)
Kosovo and the outlines of Europe’s new order
Sergei Medvedev and Peter van Ham

This introduction presents an overview of key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book explores how experiences in Kosovo have changed the discourse of European security. It provides new and stimulating perspectives on how 'Kosovo' has shaped European post-post-Cold War reality. The book aims to contribute to the insecurity of the field of security studies by sidelining the theoretical worldview that underlies mainstream strategic thinking on the Kosovo events. It investigates how 'Kosovo' has developed into this principal paradigmatic sign in the complex text of European security. The book also investigates how its very marginality has emphasised the unravelling fringes and limits of the sovereign presence of what 'Europe' thinks it stands for, and how it affects the discourse on European security.

in Mapping European security after Kosovo
Open Access (free)
Judith Squires

This chapter examines contemporary understandings of the public-private distinction and feminist critiques. Political theorists tend to acknowledge two broad traditions for distinguishing between the public and the private: the classical and the liberal. The feminist literature on the public-private distinction has focused primarily on critiquing the liberal formulation of the public-private distinction. The significance of caring, as both practice and perspective has generated a large feminist literature on the 'ethic of care'. The feminist theorists have turned towards the project of reconceptualising the public and private in new, less gendered ways. There is evidence that the feminist literature on the public-private distinction takes one beyond critique to prescription. Joan Scott suggests that, 'It makes no sense for the feminist movement to let its arguments be forced into pre-existing categories and its political disputes to be characterised by a dichotomy we did not invent'.

in Political concepts
Kerry Longhurst

This chapter examines the reform of the German armed forces. It appraises several attempts during the 1990s to change the Bundeswehr from its Cold War organisation into a modern military equipped for a wider range of missions. It shows that these attempts have been surrounded by controversy and slowed down by financial uncertainties. This chapter also emphasises the external and internal impulses for defence reform and discusses the different factors that have slowed down policy change.

in Germany and the use of force

This book reviews a variety of approaches to the study of the European Union's foreign policy. Much analysis of EU foreign policy contains theoretical assumptions about the nature of the EU and its member states, their inter-relationships, the international system in which they operate and the nature of European integration. The book outlines the possibilities for the use of discourse analysis in the study of European foreign policy. It sets out to explore the research problem using a political-cultural approach and seeks to illuminate the cognitive mind-maps with which policy-makers interpret their political 'realities'. The book provides an overview and analysis of some of the non-realist approaches to international relations and foreign policy, and proposes an analytical framework with which to explore the complex interplay of factors affecting European foreign policy. The book suggests one way of seeking theoretical parsimony without sacrificing the most defining empirical knowledge which has been generated about Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) over the years. It argues that while the sui generis nature of CFSP presents an acute problem for international relations theory, it is less pronounced with regard to traditional integration theory. The book discusses the dimensions of European foreign policy-making with reference to the case of arms export controls. Situated at the interface between European studies and international relations, it outlines how the EU relates to the rest of the world, explaining its effort towards creating a credible, effective and principled foreign, security and defence policy.

Open Access (free)
Their basis and limits
Catriona McKinnon

Rights appear in every plausible theory of justice and dominate contemporary political rhetoric. Critics, as a matter of course, raise two objections to this proliferation of rights talk. First, they argue that no clear justification exists for rights. As a result, every political issue can be turned into a demand for rights. Second, they object that rights encourage individualistic and anti-social behaviour. This chapter explores two approaches to rights: the interest-based (IB) approach and the obligation-based or Kantian view. Both approaches are shown to offer coherent justifications that can avoid turning all political concerns into a matter of rights. The chapter compares the ways the approaches relate to other social duties. It shall be argued that only the Kantian approach fully escapes the second criticism by positively requiring that we supplement rights with other social virtues.

in Political concepts
Kevin Harrison and Tony Boyd

This chapter considers the development of the concept of 'rights' as being intrinsic to human beings because they are human. It focuses on various kinds of rights: 'natural' and 'human' rights; legal rights; civil rights; and welfare rights. The chapter analyses the idea of 'obligation' or 'duty', notably the obligations the citizen is said to owe to society and to the government. It examines various theories of such obligation. The obligations include moral obligations; legal obligations; civic obligations; and social obligations. The chapter looks at the fashionable idea of 'citizenship', and the various ways in which the term is used. It is a word capable of multiple meanings: legal citizenship; sociological citizenship; and participatory citizenship. The chapter reflects upon the implications of the British government's promotion of 'citizenship'.

in Understanding political ideas and movements
A political–cultural approach
Lisbeth Aggestam

This chapter sets out to explore the research problem using a political-cultural approach and seeks to illuminate the cognitive mind-maps with which policy-makers interpret their political 'realities'. It provides a brief discussion of national and European role conceptions, based on a comparative study of British, French and German foreign policy in the context of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Role conceptions could metaphorically be thought of as 'road maps' which facilitate the foreign policy-maker's navigation through a complex political reality. The stability of the European Union (EU) as a foreign policy actor is dependent on the member states consistently adopting common role conceptions and modifying their behaviour according to each others' roles and expectations. If a Europeanisation of foreign policy is taking place, we would anticipate that member states would be adopting position roles that increase the predictability of foreign policy and stable expectations.

in Rethinking European Union Foreign Policy