In his major new work, David Boucher surveys the history of thinking about human rights and shows that far from being seen as universal and emancipatory, they have almost always privileged certain groups in relation to others.
In this article I intend to give more attention to Pufendorf's ideas than has been the custom among international relations theorists. The main focus will be upon Pufendorf's distillation and conceptualization of the implications of Westphalia in terms of sovereignty and the integrity of states. Furthermore, his extension of the Aristotelian classification of types of state, and his attempts to go beyond Bodin's and Hobbes's theories of sovereignty, provide the vocabulary and concepts in terms of which the different international actors (...) of the late seventeenth century could be understood. In this respect the focus is altogether different from Linklater. My emphasis upon the historical and emblematic character of the Peace of Westphalia, the personification of the state and its animation by sovereignty, which serves to facilitate Pufendorf's exploration of the idea of a system of states, and my suggestion that his ideas are not wholly redundant and may be used to explore some facets of a modern states system, serve considerably to extend Forsyth's brief analysis. (shrink)
ABSTRACTIt is contended that British Idealists, New Liberals and Liberal Imperialists were all in favour of imperialism, especially when it took the form of white settler communities. The concession of relative autonomy was an acknowledgement of the potential of white settler communities to go the way of America by severing their relationship with the Empire completely. Where significant differences emerge in their thinking is in relation to non-white territories in the Empire where native peoples comprised the majority, and the British (...) Government and its agents administered in trust ‘lower’ peoples on the scale of civilisation with the ostensible goal of guiding them towards self-determination in the Empire. The differences in degree of commitment to these ideals were largely expressed in terms of the pejorative categories of ‘sane’ and ‘insane’ imperialism, which were flexible and manipulated for political gain, rather than analytic precision. Liberal Imperialists and New Liberals were opposed to each other in terms of the degree to which they supported imperialism, whereas British Idealists aligned themselves on both sides of the divide. (shrink)
The idea of the rule of law is central in the European Union’s conception of itself, and stands as one of the most important political criteria of the enlargement process. Some clarification of this core concept is essential if it is to play a meaningful role in enlargement and, indeed, if we are able to make a judgement about whether the criterion is substantive or merely rhetorical. In other words, what purpose must the rule of law serve within a state, (...) beyond the rather trite beliefs that the law rather than individuals rule, and that no one is above the law, if a state is to be admitted to the European Union of states? I want to suggest that its principal purpose has been to guard against arbitrary rule, and if the rule of law is to be a substantive criterion for expansion of the European Union it must be cognizant of what the criterion entails, and face up to the implications for admitting states with cultures where the rule of law has not featured significantly in their political and social landscapes. The article looks at one of the most sophisticated attempts to delineate the ideal character of the rule of law in recent philosophy, namely that of Michael Oakeshott, to clarify the meaning that it has in its use in modern European history and in relation to the modern European state. (shrink)
This paper is addressed to a specific question: why did Oakeshott fail to follow his own methodological prescriptions when he wrote and delivered his lectures on the history of political thought? In that respect it is about the manner of his studying the history of political thought rather than about its substantive content. I will briefly characterise the architecture of his characterisation, and contend that his view of the history of political thought, at least at the philosophical level,is shared by (...) many historians and philosophers alike, including John Rawls. It is contended, however, that the subject matter of Oakeshott's lectures encompassed much more than his triadic conception of political thought was meant to capture. His ideal characters of Enterprise Association and Civil Association o not supersede or replace the triadic conception. The triadic conception is meant to encompass purely philosophical reflection, whereas his ideal associative characters may encompass reflection at all three of the levels he discusses. Had the subject-matter of the lectures been more restricted, would he have employed his recommended methodology? I suggest that he would not have done, and go on to ask whether we too should abandon the idea of conceiving the history of political thought in terms of the three master traditions he recommended. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to explore in what respects Thomas Hobbes may be regarded as foundational in international thought. It is evident that in contemporary international relations theory he has become emblematic of a realist tradition, but as David Armitage suggests this was not always the case. I want to suggest that it is only in a very limited sense that he may be regarded as a foundational thinker in international relations, and for reasons very different from those (...) for which he has become infamous. In the early histories of international thought Hobbes is a cameo figure completely eclipsed by Grotius. In early histories of political literature, the classic jurists were often acknowledged for their remarkable contributions to international relations, but Hobbes is referred to exclusively as a philosopher of a positvist ethics and absolute sovereignty. It is among the jurists themselves that Hobbes is believed to have made important conceptual moves which set the problems for international thought for the next three centuries. He conflates natural law and the law of nations, arguing that they differ only in their subjects—the former individuals, the latter nations or states. This entailed transforming the sovereign into an artificial man, not in the Roman Law sense of an entity capable of suing and being sued; rather, as a subject not party to a contract, but created by a contract among individuals who confer upon it authority. This subject is not constrained by the contractors, but is, as individuals were in the state of nature, constrained by the equivalent of natural law, the law of nations in the international context. Throughout, the methodological implications are drawn for modern historians of political thought and political philosophers who venture to theorise about international relations. (shrink)
This is the first comprehensive study of the political philosophy of the British philosopher R. G. Collingwood, best known for his contributions to aesthetics and the philosophy of history. However his political thought, and in particular his book The New Leviathan, have been neglected, even dismissed in some quarters. Professor Boucher argues for the importance of this political theory and provides a perspicuous account of its development and originality. He contends that The New Leviathan is an attempt to reconcile philosophy (...) and history, theory and practice. Collingwood's distinctive contribution to modern political and social thought is seen as his sustained project of distinguishing utility from right, and right from duty; the passion for history coincides with the ethical thought because Collingwood wishes to identify dutiful, or moral, action with a historical civilization. Drawing on a wealth of manuscript material, this book will prove invaluable to political philosophers and intellectual historians. (shrink)
Political Thinkers is an authoritative introduction to the entire history of Western political thought. Carefully edited by two of the leading scholars in the field, it features specially commissioned chapters by an impressive line-up of internationally renowned scholars from around the world. This book provides an overview of the canon of great political theorists--from Socrates and the Sophists to such contemporary thinkers as Habermas and Foucault. Each contributor critically discusses the ideas and significance of each thinker and gives a summary (...) of the best contemporary scholarship in the area. (shrink)
Michael Oakeshott shared the general concerns of British idealists and leaned heavily upon their conclusions. As with any mode of understanding, historv creates its own object of inquiry. History is an activity built upon postulates and capable of generating conclusions appropriate to itself. The past in history is different from any other past. It can only be evoked by means of subscription to the historical present in which each artifact is recognized as the vestige of a performance which is transformed (...) into circumstantial evidence of a past which has not survived. A great deal of what Oakeshott has to say, especially about coherence, continuity, and identity in difference, stands in sharp contrast to Collingwood's ideas on the reenactment of the past. A living past, relevant to the present or evocative of a future state of affairs, is modally irrelevant to history. (shrink)
Despite the fact that by the end of the nineteenth century philosophically Natural Rights had been severely undermined, and that the British Idealists found anathema most of the principles upon which they relied, such theories still had a currency among some political polemicists. The Idealists retained the vocabulary and transformed the meaning to refer to those rights which it is imperative that the state or society recognise as indispensable to social existence. The criterion of such necessity was their contribution to (...) the common good. Such thinks as Green, Bosanquet, Ritchie, Jones and Watson offer a developmental view of Natural Rights, acknowledging that societies evolve giving rise to more refined versions of what constitutes the common good. While the idea of Human Rights depends upon the existence of a moral community, the common good is not necessarily judged only in relation to that community. There is nothing sacred about state borders or sovereignty, and the extension of the moral community beyond such arbitrary limits is both possible and desirable. This way of conceiving Natural Rights has become one of the dominant ways, in a variety of forms, of characterising the post 1945 Human Rights Culture. (shrink)
This book explores how how Hobbes's political philosophy has occupied a pertinent place in different contexts, such as political theory, the theory of international relations, and philosophical idealism.
Despite the fact that by the end of the nineteenth century philosophically Natural Rights had been severely undermined, and that the British Idealists found anathema most of the principles upon which they relied, such theories still had a currency among some political polemicists. The Idealists retained the vocabulary and transformed the meaning to refer to those rights which it is imperative that the state or society recognise as indispensable to social existence. The criterion of such necessity was their contribution to (...) the common good. Such thinks as Green, Bosanquet, Ritchie, Jones and Watson offer a developmental view of Natural Rights, acknowledging that societies evolve giving rise to more refined versions of what constitutes the common good. While the idea of Human Rights depends upon the existence of a moral community, the common good is not necessarily judged only in relation to that community. There is nothing sacred about state borders or sovereignty, and the extension of the moral community beyond such arbitrary limits is both possible and desirable. This way of conceiving Natural Rights has become one of the dominant ways, in a variety of forms, of characterising the post 1945 Human Rights Culture. r 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. (shrink)
The degree to which British Idealists, both Absolutists and Personalists, were influenced by evolutionary debates has been underestimated, and far from being outright opponents they developed their own particular brand in order to demonstrate the relevance of their philosophies to addressing the important issues of the day. They were opposed to naturalism, but agreed with the likes of Darwin and Spencer that nature and spirit exhibit a continuity. Where they disagreed was in the naturalistic emphasis of giving priority to nature (...) in explanation, that is, explaining the higher in terms of the lower. They also agreed with the likes of Wallace and Huxley, in giving a special place to ethics in the evolutionary process. They disagreed because of the wedge they perceived them to be driving between nature and spirit. The British Idealists begin with the principle of unity and contend that nature and spirit are continuous, and while nature is not intelligent, it is intelligible only to the human mind. Nature and Spirit are mutually dependent and to assert the reality of one over the other is to make abstractions of both. In fully acknowledging spirit in the evolutionary process they were able to reconcile their religious consciousness and the idea of freedom with the theory of evolution. (shrink)
This book brings together for the first time R. G. Collingwood's political and related writings, in which he places political action in the context of action as a whole and addresses the substantive social and political issues - in particular Nazism and Fascism - which he perceived as a threat to European civilization. This is the first time that substantial philosophical arguments from the unpublished manuscripts have been reproduced since Malcolm Knox edited the posthumously published Idea of History.
This is a book about the personal and philosophical relationships between three Italian philosophers and their intersection with the life and thought of the English polymath R. G. Collingwood. It is well known that many of the most controversial ideas of the Italians were developed in direct engagement with each other through published encounters and private correspondence. The connection between Collingwood and the Italians, although vaguely familiar to English and Italian readers, is far less well known in its details, perhaps (...) because Collingwood himself played down his debt to them in his An Autobiography. He simply alludes to the Fascist Giovanni Gentile, and ignores Croce. Collingwood makes a passing... (shrink)