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.
All political argument employs politicalconcepts. They provide the building blocks needed to construct a case for or
against a given political position. Is development aid too low, income tax
too high, pornography violence against women, or mass bombing unjust? Any
response to topical questions such as these involves developing a view of
what individuals are entitled to, what they owe to others, the role of
with positive freedom being more relevant to psychology or
individual morality than to political theory. This, however, would be
premature, for among the most hotly debated issues in political theory are
the following: is the positive concept of freedom a politicalconcept? Can individuals or groups achieve positive freedom through
political action? Is it possible for the state to promote the positive
freedom of citizens on
years later in the
1970s. When it arrived, gender was itself a highly politicalconcept,
signalling a rearrangement of the scope, terms and politics of political
theory itself. Gender theorists at that point conceived of their work within
political theory as a further engagement of feminism with
‘malestream’ thought, that is, theorisations of politics written
by men and reflecting their assumptions and interests. The feminist
The idea of the just war is in danger of becoming one of the political clichés of the new century. From an object of neglect and indifference, just war has been transformed into the dominant image of war, in the post-cold war age. Realism is no solution to the problem of the restraint of war. The solution lies not in a rejection of the very idea of just war, but in a conception of just war that recognises its threat as well as its promise. The real choice is between two radically different concepts of just war, with opposing logical structures and divergent effects. The complex structure of just war theory embodies its 'negative' or restraining role. Ostensibly, the mechanisms of restraint in just war theory are the various principles or criteria that the theory articulates and upholds.
Cosmopolitanism points to the justification of our moral principles as having a universal basis. The type of universal principles required is generated by three different sources of cosmopolitanism: Kantianism, utilitarianism and Marxism. This chapter examines the cosmopolitan and communitarian positions. The seminal starting point in the discussions of distributive international justice, which transcends state borders and denies the nation as an ethically relevant factor, is the position of Peter Singer. John Rawls, because of his emphasis upon a political liberal conception of justice, has increasingly been allied to a communitarian or particularist position in which the elements of universalism derive from the principles which regulate communities or peoples. Onora O'Neill has argued that modern writers on ethics have tended to sever the traditional connection between justice and virtue.
One of the deep attractions of green political theory is its claim to be focused on the very survival of the whole natural ecosystem of the planet. This chapter identifies the underlying notion of the political theory employed by most greens and examines two perspectives on green political theory: dominant perspective and ecocentric perspective. John Plamenatz defined dominant perspective as a 'systematic thinking about the purposes of government'. The ecocentric perspective argues that what is required is not so much ethics as a psychological change in 'ecological sensibility'. Both perspectives, despite their manifested differences, are premised on the significance of nature. In ancient Greek, thinking nature was intimately related to intelligence or soul. Greek thinkers would have been genuinely puzzled by later dualistic conceptions of mind and nature. Deep anthropocentrism ignores any co-dependence with nature.
Many political theorists view the rule of law with suspicion. On the one hand, it can appear mere political rhetoric. On the other hand, certain critics of this rhetorical position identify the rule of law with some notion of good or just law. This chapter argues that some of the problems can be avoided if we see the main task of the rule of law as the prevention of arbitrary rule. Among contemporary political theorists, the rule of law has been closely associated with the work of F. von Hayek, who gave it a pivotal role in his constitutional theory. He believed that interventionist economic policies and totalitarian politics were intimately connected: the one entailed an incremental increase in arbitrary interferences with individual liberty that ultimately led to the other. Republicans trace arbitrariness and domination to asymmetries of power.
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'.
This chapter explores what it means to move multiculturalism from the outskirts to the centre of our political thinking. It explains the range of multicultural rights and examines an important attempt to theorise them. The chapter considers Will Kymlicka's Multicultural Citizenship to defend cultural protection along liberal lines. Influenced by Inuit communities in the Canadian Northwest Territories, Kymlicka regards a culture as a civilisation, self-sufficient and with its own social institutions. The chapter explores the attempts to go beyond Kymlicka's largely liberal approach with a more radical 'politics of recognition', which says that we recognise cultures on their own terms. Charles Taylor's elegant essay 'The Politics of Recognition' has given the politics of recognition a rich philosophical background. Taylor's account of recognition seems to hover between endorsing the values a culture subscribes to and affirming a culture's specific identity, which need not require endorsing all its values.