Principles and Political Order: The Challenge of Diversity

Routledge (2006)
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Abstract

The liberal and democratic political order is underpinned by universal principles of justice. However, the universality of these principles is now being questioned and undermined by challenges from postmodernism, communitarianism, multiculturalism and other forms of anti-foundationalism. These challenges highlight the sheer diversity of cultures and values, treating liberal values and democratic political culture as one idea of social organization amongst many. While social and political orders are capable of almost endless variation, it may be that not every diverse order is legitimate and we can justifiably regard some forms of social organization as beyond the pale and a 'thin' form of universalism has been developed to support this contention. The core idea behind 'thin universalism' is that it is possible to rehabilitate the universalist aspirations of normative theory while acknowledging the force of many antifoundationalist and multiculturalist criticisms of universalism. This book brings together prominent international political theorists to explain and discuss this contested concept and explore how we can stand up for and act upon principles in a world characterized by cultural difference, moral skepticism, and political division. The authors present a variety of perspectives: some chapters are sympathetic to the idea of a thin universalist account of justification, some are reluctant advocates and others are skeptical about its success or even desirability. Opening out core debates in contemporary normative theory, this volume will be of great interest to researchers and scholars working in the fields of contemporary political theory, political philosophy and IR theory.

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