Political Theory

ISSNs: 0090-5917, 1552-7476

18 found

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  1.  16
    Teaching by Examples: Rousseau’s Lawgiver and the Case of Benjamin Franklin.Timothy Brennan - 2024 - Political Theory 52 (3):348-373.
    Rousseau’s account of the “legislator” or “lawgiver” is commonly regarded as one of the most far-fetched, ominous, and baffling parts of his teaching in the Social Contract. In brief, Rousseau’s lawgiver seems to be a proto-totalitarian figure whose self-appointed mission is to found a political community by “denaturing” people at a single stroke and who may be a mere figment of Rousseau’s overheated imagination. Accordingly, this part of the Social Contract threatens to make a mockery of Rousseau’s claim to be (...)
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  2.  19
    A Critique of Martha Nussbaum’s Liberal Aesthetics.Katie Ebner-Landy - 2024 - Political Theory 52 (3):374-403.
    While we are familiar with socialist and fascist aesthetics, liberalism is not usually thought to permit a political role for literature. Nussbaum has attempted to fill this lacuna. She sketches a “liberal aesthetics” by linking three aspects of literature to her normative proposal. The representation of suffering is connected to the capability approach; the presentation of ethical dilemmas to political liberalism; and the reaction of pity to legal and political judgment. Literature is thus hoped to contribute to the stability of (...)
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  3.  27
    Knowledge-Making in Politics: Expertise in Democracy and Epistocracy.Matthew C. Lucky - 2024 - Political Theory 52 (3):431-458.
    Recently, epistocrats have challenged the value of democracy by claiming that policy outcomes can be improved if the electorate were narrowed to empower only those with sufficient knowledge to inform competent policy decisions. I argue that by centering on contesting how well regimes employ extant knowledge in decision-making, this conversation has neglected to consider how regimes influence the production of knowledge over time. Science and technology studies scholars have long recognized that political systems impact the productivity of expert research. I (...)
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  4.  21
    “Persons of the Sex are True Wonders”: Gabrielle Suchon on Difference and Political Wonders.Mary Jo MacDonald - 2024 - Political Theory 52 (3):490-516.
    Gabrielle Suchon’s Treatise on Ethics and Politics offers surprising descriptions of sexual difference for an ostensibly feminist work. Stereotypically feminine traits—such as excessive emotions, chattiness, and deception—are compared to earthquakes, storms, wildfire, and apparitions. Although these descriptions may seem off-putting to modern readers, I argue that in offering these unflattering descriptions of women, Suchon is making a novel intervention in debates about the nature of sexual difference. In the Renaissance and Early Modern period, the salient question about feminine difference was (...)
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  5.  17
    Rightful Power and an Ideal of Free Community: The Political Theory of Steve Biko.Ẹniọlá Ànúolúwapọ́ Ṣóyẹmí - 2024 - Political Theory 52 (3):459-489.
    Steve Biko is one of the most important liberation activists of his time. Yet, his theoretical contribution is not well understood or appreciated. This article reconstructs Biko’s political ideas and introduces a new integrated reading and interpretation of his writings, speeches, and recorded interviews. It argues that Biko’s Black consciousness ideal should not only be read as engaging an activist movement or programme but, also, as encompassing an original theoretical framework grounded in a communalist ethos of Biko’s own conceptual development. (...)
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  6.  18
    Tocqueville and the Bureaucratic Foundations of Democracy in America.Douglas I. Thompson - 2024 - Political Theory 52 (3):404-430.
    One of Tocqueville’s best-known empirical claims in Democracy in America is that there is no national-level public administration in the United States. He asserts definitively and repeatedly that “administrative centralization does not exist” there. However, in scattered passages throughout the text, Tocqueville points to multiple federal agencies that contemporary historians and APD scholars characterize as instances of a growing national administrative system, such as the Post Office Department and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. I reevaluate Tocqueville’s treatment of bureaucracy in (...)
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  7.  37
    Aimé Césaire’s “Tropical Marxism” and the Problem of Alienation.Arwa Awan - 2024 - Political Theory 52 (2):317-343.
    This article traces Aimé Césaire’s engagement with Marxism through the concept of alienation, which is central to the Marxist-Hegelian tradition. The idea of restoring human creative powers, which take on an alien character under particular historical conditions, deeply shaped Césaire’s analysis of French colonial assimilation, which compelled the Black colonized subjects to identify with French bourgeois culture instead of taking revolutionary action against capitalism. Situating Césaire within the intellectual milieu of interwar Paris, this piece draws out his links with the (...)
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  8.  11
    The Art of Not Being Sexed Quite So Much: A Feminist Reading of Roland Barthes.Lila Braunschweig - 2024 - Political Theory 52 (2):180-209.
    This article offers an underexplored resistance strategy to gender norms, based on a feminist and queer reading of the work of French thinker Roland Barthes. Building on Barthes’s peculiar conception of what he calls “the Neutral” and revisiting his work in light of feminist and queer scholarship on sexual (in)difference, my main goal is to reshape our understanding of what it means to be gender neutral. In opposition to classical conceptions of neutrality associated with passivity, indifference, and blandness, I show (...)
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  9.  25
    “A Matter of Long Centuries and Not Years”: Du Bois on the Temporality of Social Change.Jennie C. Ikuta - 2024 - Political Theory 52 (2):289-316.
    In light of the summer 2020 protests and their subsequent backlash, questions about the prospective timeline for achieving a racially just society have taken on renewed significance. This article investigates Du Bois’s writings between 1920 and 1940 as a lens through which to examine the temporality of social change. I argue that Du Bois’s turn to the role of white unreason explains the dual temporality of his political vision and the dual strategies that ensue. According to Du Bois, white supremacy (...)
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  10.  24
    Beyond Martyrdom: Rereading Invisible Man.Ferris Lupino - 2024 - Political Theory 52 (2):236-258.
    For political and literary theorists working on race, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is a canonical text. Most political theorists approach the novel through what this essay calls a “martyr reading,” though martyrdom is just one of several political strategies explored in the work. This essay highlights an alternative in Ellison’s repertoire. The “trickster reading” developed here better accounts for several key scenes in the novel and also shows the limits of martyrdom as a technique of democratic politics. While other democratic (...)
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  11.  25
    After Sovereignty: From a Hegemonic to Agonistic Islamic Political Thought.Andrew F. March - 2024 - Political Theory 52 (2):259-288.
    The phenomenon of “Muslim Democracy” has been analyzed by scholars for a number of years, at least since the mid-1990s. The standard view about Muslim Democracy is that (perhaps like its European counterpart Christian Democracy) it represents a nonideological, or postideological, pragmatic approach to electoral politics. The purpose of this article is to advance two primary arguments. The first is that the turn to Muslim Democracy as an ideology and practice should first be understood as a way of thinking about (...)
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  12.  23
    Social Worlds and the Roles of Political Philosophy.Andrew Stewart - 2024 - Political Theory 52 (2):210-235.
    The term “social world” is increasingly familiar in philosophy and political theory. Rawls uses it quite often, especially in his later works. But there has been little explicit discussion of the term and the idea of social worlds. My aim in this paper is to show that political philosophers, Rawlsian or not, should think seriously about social worlds and the roles these things play and ought to play in their work. The idea of social worlds can help political philosophers think (...)
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  13.  15
    Women, Rituals, and the Domestic-Political Distinction in the Confucian Classics.Loubna El Amine - 2024 - Political Theory 52 (1):90-119.
    In this article, I show that women are depicted in the early Confucian texts not primarily as undertaking household duties or nurturing children but rather as partaking in rituals of mourning and ancestor worship. To make the argument, I analyze, besides the more philosophical texts like the Analects and the Mencius, texts known as the “Five Classics,” which describe women in their social roles in much more detail than the former. What women’s participation in rituals reveals, I contend, is that (...)
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  14.  54
    Colonialism versus Imperialism.Barbara Arneil - 2024 - Political Theory 52 (1):146-176.
    Contemporary scholars routinely argue colonialism and imperialism are indistinguishable. In this essay, I challenge this argument. While it is true the “colonial” and “imperial” overlap and intersect historically, I argue there is a central thread of modern colonialism as an ideology that can be traced from the seventeenth century to mid-twentieth century that was not only distinct from—but often championed in explicit opposition to—imperialism. I advance my argument in four parts. First, I identify key ways in which the colonial can (...)
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  15.  26
    Essentially Aggregative Harm, Restraint, and Collectivization.Elizabeth Kahn - 2024 - Political Theory 52 (1):34-59.
    Some of the most pressing contemporary social problems result from the amalgamation of a mass of actions that are not intentionally coordinated. Although these essentially aggregative harms are foreseeable, it is unclear what moral duties individuals have with regards to them. This paper offers a new analysis of these problems and uses a nonideal contractualist approach to argue in favour of two kinds of duties for individuals. Collectivization duties that require individuals to act responsively with a view to ensuring that (...)
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  16.  22
    Two Theories of Self-Determination: The Discourse of Democratic Peoplehood in Colonial Korea.Chungjae Lee - 2024 - Political Theory 52 (1):6-33.
    This article examines two distinct ways in which anticolonial thinkers in early twentieth-century Korea reconstructed their nondemocratic tradition in an attempt to justify (rather than take for granted) the claim of self-determination. The exposure to modern education and ideas of democracy prompted these thinkers to critically engage their tradition in the struggle for self-determination. That said, they could not simply abandon the cultural foundation of their nation. Japanese colonial rule drew its legitimacy from not only an assimilation ideology that the (...)
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  17.  21
    The Tribunate as a Realist Democratic Innovation.Janosch Prinz & Manon Westphal - 2024 - Political Theory 52 (1):60-89.
    We argue that a reinvention of the plebeian tribunate should play a key role in addressing the challenges stemming from increasing concentrations of, and inequalities in, social, political, economic, and cultural power in liberal democracies. Addressing these challenges, which negatively affect parliamentary representation, requires a form of institutional innovation that gives voice to non-elites who are ruled but do not rule. We propose revisions of the composition and tasks of the tribunate that are tailored to these current challenges. Our fully (...)
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  18.  14
    Hobson on White Parasitism and Its Solutions.Benjamin R. Y. Tan - 2024 - Political Theory 52 (1):120-145.
    Since the publication of J. A. Hobson’s (1858–1940) Imperialism: A Study in 1902, the text has been studied—even celebrated—as a liberal or proto-Marxist critique of modern empires. This reputation stands in some tension with the text itself, which defends various forms of imperial domination. While scholars have addressed this tension, they remain divided over how best to understand Hobson’s imperial commitments. Offering a new response to this debate, I argue that a key dimension of Imperialism has been overlooked—namely, Hobson’s conception (...)
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