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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)
Richard Bellamy and Andrew Mason

All political argument employs political concepts. 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

in Political concepts
Open Access (free)
Ian Carter

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 political concept? Can individuals or groups achieve positive freedom through political action? Is it possible for the state to promote the positive freedom of citizens on

in Political concepts
Open Access (free)
Terrell Carver

years later in the 1970s. When it arrived, gender was itself a highly political concept, 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

in Political concepts
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
Open Access (free)
Alan Cromartie

Max Weber approached legitimacy as a subcategory of 'domination', by which he meant 'the probability that certain specific commands (or all commands) will be obeyed by a given group of persons'. The ultimate source of legitimacy theories was probably the bias towards individualism that was introduced by Christianity. Because the objective of Christians was salvation, political activities were inessential to their self-conception, and it was possible to hold that earthly governments were something contingently willed by Providence. Thomas Hobbes was the first great thinker to face up to our political predicament. The Hobbesian detachment of a reflective self from the activities that it engaged in involving him in developing a picture of that self as holding beliefs supportive of his state's authority. John Lockean's legitimacy was founded on the memory of an uncoerced decision to put oneself into subjection, but such events were virtually unknown.

in Political concepts
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Andrew Vincent

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.

in Political concepts
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David Boucher

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.

in Political concepts
Ciarán O’Kelly

This chapter is about national ties and how they are supposed to act as a glue that holds the state together in the eyes of its citizens. A nation-state is one where all the people in the state are bound together by ties of national solidarity. Nationalists argue that solidarity derived from 'thin' concepts like 'justice' and 'utility' cannot bind people to their states. Conceptually, the sources of solidarity have either derived from the ideas of ethnicity or of civic unity. The questions provoked by the attempts to redeem civic nationalism concern the coherence and practicality of civic solidarity. Some contemporary political theorists regard nationalism as an anachronistic vestige of less enlightened times or as a distraction from the real issues of politics. The rise of ethnic nationalism and of imperialist racialism led to the sidelining in the more established nation-states of the republican traditions associated with civic nationalism.

in Political concepts
Open Access (free)
Richard Bellamy

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.

in Political concepts