I shall advance the thesis that if there are any moral rights at all, it follows that there is at least one natural right, the equal right of all men to be free. H.L.A. Hart, “Are There Any Natural Rights?”.
My business in this stateMade me a looker-on here in Vienna,Where I have seen corruption boil and bubbleTill it o'errun the stew: laws for all faults,But faults so countenanc'd that the strong statutesStand like the forfeits in a barber's shop,As much in mock as in mark.ShakespeareThe greatest liberty of subjects, dependeth on the silence of the law.Hobbes.
The author argues that the free society should not be seen as a hierarchy of superior and subordinate authorities but an archipelago of competing and overlapping jurisdictions. Kukathas has produced the book that no one with an interest in multiculturalism can afford to ignore.
The political pursuit of global justice is not a worthy goal, and our aims in establishing international legal and political institutions should be more modest. The pursuit of justice in the international order is dangerous to the extent that it requires the establishment of powerful supranational agencies, or legitimizes greater and more frequent exercise of political, economic, and military power by strong states or coalitions. The primary concern in the establishment and design of all legal and political institutions should be (...) not to secure justice but to limit power. It is a mistake to think that a distinction can be drawn between power created to do good and power created to do evil, or that we are capable of devising institutions that can honor the distinction. a Footnotesa For helpful comments on earlier drafts of this essay, I would like to thank Jerry Gaus, David Miller, Dan Greenwood, Peggy Battin, Leslie Francis, Erika George, Cindy Stark, and Deen Chatterjee, as well as my fellow contributors to this volume. For especially detailed and helpful editorial comments and advice, I would like to thank Ellen Paul. (shrink)
This article considers the question of the responsibility of present generations for injustices committed by previous ones. It asks whether the descendants of victims of past injustice have claims against the descendants of the perpetrators of injustice. Two modes of argument are examined: the individual responsibility approach, according to which descendants cannot have claims against other descendants, and the collective responsibility approach, according to which descendants do have strong claims. Both approaches are criticized, but for different failings. An alternative view, (...) building on the individualist approach, is defended. This view argues that some people may have to bear responsibility for past injustice if lines of responsibility can clearly be drawn. This is most likely when certain kinds of corporate agents persist over generations, even after original members of such corporations have ceased to exist. Key Words: responsibility justice injustice aborigines history. (shrink)
In the history of modern liberal thought, the work of F.A. Hayek stands out as among the most significant contributions since that of J.S. Mill. In this book, Kukathas critically examines the nature and coherence of Hayek's defense of liberal principles, attempting both to identify its weaknesses and to show why it makes an important contribution to contemporary political theory. Kukathas argues that Hayek's defense of liberalism is unsuccessful because it rests on presuppositions which are philosophically incompatible. In his view, (...) the unresolved dilemma of Hayek's political philosophy is how to mount a systematic defense of liberalism if one emphasizes the limited capacity of human reason. Hayek's social philosophy, he argues, offers a significant theory of the nature of social processes, and is therefore an important account of how this must constrain our choice of political principles. (shrink)
A number of theorists have touted the merits of the contextual approach to political theory, arguing that a close examination of real-world cases is more likely to yield both theoretical insight and practical solutions to pressing problems. This is particularly evident, it is argued, in the field of multiculturalism in political theory. The present paper offers some skeptical reflections on this view, arguing the merits of a view of political theory which sees the contextual approach as less distinctive than its (...) proponents imagine, and less useful than many would suggest. It maintains that there are serious limits to what political theorists can achieve, even if political theory is not without its uses if we value social criticism. (shrink)
`This volume combines remarkable coverage and distinguished contributors. The inclusion of thematic, conceptual, and historical chapters will make it a valuable resource for scholars as well as students' - Professor George Klosko, Department of Politics, University of Virginia This major new Handbook provides a definitive state-of-the-art review to political theory, past and present. It offers a complete guide to all the main areas and fields of political and philosophical inquiry today by the world's leading theorists. The Handbook is divided into (...) five parts which together serve to illustrate: - the diversity of political theorizing - the substantive theories that provide an over-aching analysis of the nature/or justification of the state and political life - the political theories that have been either formulated or resurgent in recent years - the current state of the central debates within contemporary political theory - the history of western political thought and its interpretations - traditions in political thought outside a western perspective. The Handbook of Political Theory marks a benchmark publication at the cutting edge of its field. It is essential reading for all students and academics of political theory and political philosophy around the world. (shrink)
The foundations of human inequality lie in the fact of human diversity, or in the human tendency to differentiate from some while associating with others to form groups. The diversity which results from association and differentiation makes equality unattainable. Diversity and equality are incompatible, and attempts to promote one can only be made at the expense of the other. In these circumstances, we should abandon the ideal of equality as incapable of offering us an adequate understanding of the nature of (...) the good society. Key Words: diversity equality property Rousseau culture. (shrink)
The primary concern of this essay is with the question “What is a political community?” This question is important in its own right. Arguably, the main purpose of political philosophy is to provide an account of the nature of political association and, in so doing, to describe the relations that hold between the individual and the state. The question is also important, however, because of its centrality in contemporary debate about liberalism and community.
Philip Pettit and Quentin Skinner find Hobbes's understanding of freedom as non-interference inadequate because it fails to appreciate what is wrong with a life lived as a slave. Though their critiques have some force, however, Hobbes's view of freedom has virtues of its own. It is highly sensitive to the fact that freedom is a matter of degree. It is also unlikely to mistake freedom for something else, like security or dignity. Moreover, Hobbes is not as unmindful of the dangers (...) of servility as many think. (shrink)
Postcolonialism and Political Theory explores the intersection between the political and the postcolonial through an engagement with, critique of, and challenge to some of the prevalent, restrictive tenets and frameworks of Western political and social thought. It is a response to the call by postcolonial studies, as well as to the urgent need within world politics, to turn towards a multiplicity largely excluded from globally dominant discourses of community, subjectivity, power and prosperity constituted by otherness, radical alterity, or subordination to (...) the newly reconsolidated West. The book offers a diverse range of essays that re-examine and open the boundaries of political and cultural modernity's historical domain; that look at how the racialized and gendered and cultured subject visualizes the social from elsewhere; that critique the limits of postcolonial theory and its claim to celebrate diversity; and that complicate the notion of postcolonial politics within settler societies that continue to practice exile of the indigenous. Postcolonialism and Political Theory is an ideal book for graduate and advanced undergraduate level study and for those working both disciplinarily and interdisciplinarily, both inside and outside academia. (shrink)
Against scepticism from thinkers including John Rawls and Thomas Nagel about the appropriateness of justice as the concept through which global ethical concerns should be approached, Amartya Sen argues that the problem lies not with the idea of justice, but with a particular approach to thinking of justice, namely a transcendental approach. In its stead Sen is determined to offer an alternative systematic theory of justice, namely a comparative approach, as a more promising foundation for a theory of ?global justice.? (...) But in the end Sen offers no such thing. He does not develop a theory of justice and this is all to the good; for if values are plural in the way Sen suggests, then justice is not a master idea but one value among many, and it should be neither the first virtue of social institutions, nor the notion that frames all our reflections on ethical and political life. (shrink)
While no one has yet announced the death of capitalism, reports of its imminent demise have been as numerous as they have been exaggerated. Such reports have usually been bolstered by thoughtful analyses of the fundamental contradictions of capitalism, which was expected to come sliding—if not crashing—down under the weight of its own inconsistencies. Leaving aside Karl Marx's own predictions, twentieth-century analysts as diverse as Joseph Schumpeter, Daniel Bell, and Jurgen Habermas have asserted that the contradictions of capitalism could only (...) mean that its days were numbered. Alas, all that has been established by these analyses is that predictive failure is no impediment to market success: either the consumer's demand for such theories of capitalism's failures is naturally robust, or supply continues to generate its own demand. (shrink)
The libertarian first principle—a belief in individual freedom—can lead to two different and not necessarily acceptable societies from the standpoint of liberty. One is the “Union of Liberty,” in which communities, associations, and intermediate bodies are held to rigorous standards of voluntariness . In the other, the “Federation of Liberty,” they are not .While in any free society individuals may voluntarily join together and waive some of their rights , hard questions arise when nonconsenting children are born into restrictive environments (...) that their parents may have voluntarily created. An adult who gives up all of his or her property to a communal religious body upon conversion has made a voluntary choice, but what about the child born into that religious community later on? Thus, the Federation of Liberty can, in theory, turn out to contain no communities that actually value or respect liberty; and even slavery might have a lawful place within it. The Union of Liberty, on the other hand, can, in principle turn out to be society ruled by a strong authority with little respect for dissenting moral traditions, including some self-styled libertarian moral traditions.Libertarians face a stark choice between these “two constructions of libertarianism”; there is no third way, theoretically speaking. Libertarians must choose one of them. Given the necessity to choose one of these constructions, the Federation of Liberty is arguably preferable to the Union of Liberty. (shrink)
Reflection on the variety of forms of social life has long been a source of moral skepticism. The thought that there are many radically different social systems, each of which colors the way its members think about moral and political questions, has been thought by many moral philosophers to undermine confidence in our belief that our way of looking at-or even posing-these questions is the correct one. The fact of cultural variety is held to reduce, if not eliminate altogether, the (...) possibility of moral criticism of the practices of other societies. This thought is not a recent one; it is implicit, for example, in an observation made in David Hume's “A Dialogue,” when he writes: There are no manners so innocent or reasonable, but may be rendered odious or ridiculous, if measured by a standard, unknown to the persons; especially, if you employ a little art or eloquence, in aggravating some circumstances, and extenuating others, as best suits the purpose of your discourse. (shrink)
Conservatism: Dream And Reality by Robert Nisbet Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986. 118pp., $9.95 LIBERALISM by John Gray Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986. 106pp., $9.95 IDEOLOGY by David McLellan Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986. 99pp., $9?95.
The purpose of this article, more particularly, is to explore the place of Islam in the modern world-a world which contemporary writers increasingly try to understand by invoking the notions of democracy and civil society.For many, then, Islam stands in a relationship of tension with - if not complete antagonism to - democracy and modernity. It is a religion, and a philosophy, which is a throwback to the middle ages, and an obstacle to human progress.The concern of this essay is (...) to argue that Islam is not the threat it is taken to be. But to understand why, it is necessary to acquire a surer grasp of the nature of democracy, of the relationship between democracy and civil society, and of the place of religion in the modern world. Only an understanding of these matters will allow us to appreciate the moral worth of Islam, and to see why it might be a source of strength rather than a danger.None of this is to suggest, however, that there are no problems associated with the working of Islam or, indeed, any religion in the modern world. A related task of this paper, therefore, is to reflect on these difficulties, and to try to understand to what extent they stem from the nature of faith, or of religion, or certain religious faiths; and to what extent they have their roots in the nature of modern society, and liberal democratic society in particular.Lobjet de cet article, plus particulièrement, est dexplorer la place de lIslam dans le monde moderne un monde que les auteurs contemporains essaient de comprendre en invoquant de plus en plus les notions de démocratie et de société civile.Pour beaucoup, dans ce cas, lIslam reste dans une relation tendue quand elle nest pas totalement antagonique avec la démocratie et la modernité. Il apparaît comme une religion, et une philosophie, qui remonte au Moyen-Age, et un obstacle au progrès humain.Cet essai explique que lIslam nest pas la menace que lon considère quil est. Mais pour comprendre pourquoi, il est nécessaire dacquérir une compréhension plus certaine de la nature de la démocratie, de la relation entre démocratie et société civile, et de la place de la religion dans le monde moderne. Seule une compréhension de ces sujets nous permettra dapprécier la valeur morale de lIslam et de voir pourquoi ce dernier peut être source de force et non de danger.A aucun moment cependant nous ne suggérons quil ny ait pas de problèmes associés à lIslam ou, de fait, à nimporte quelle religion dans le monde moderne. Une des tâches de cet article, ainsi, est de relater ces difficultés, et dessayer de comprendre dans quelle mesure elles proviennent de la nature de la foi, ou de la religion, ou de certaines fois religieuses ; et dans quelle mesure elles ont leurs racines dans la nature de la société moderne, et de la société démocratique en particulier. (shrink)
This collection brings together the most important published papers on Rawls' work. In addition to a general introduction, the set includes introductions to each volume which help guide the reader through the material. The thematically organized volumes include: * Vol. 1: Foundations and Method * Vols. 2-3: Principles of Justice I and II * Vol. 4: Political Liberalism and the Law of Peoples.
In his major new work Chandran Kukathas offers, for the first time, a book-length treatment of this controversial and influential theory of minority rights. The author argues that the free society should not be seen as a hierarchy of superior and subordinate authorities but an archipelago of competing and overlapping jurisdictions.The idea of a liberal archipelago is defended as one which supplies us with a better metaphor of the free society than do older notions such as the body politic, or (...) the ship of state. In challenging most of the existing theories of the multicultural society and answering his past critics, Kukathas has produced the book that no one with an interest in multiculturalism can afford to ignore. (shrink)