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Lynn Dobson

This chapter examines what relations must obtain between the inhabitants of the EU as agents or as natural persons if these interpersonal relationships are to be adequate for citizenship. It takes up the objection, associated with the ‘no-demos’ thesis, that the required social and cultural preconditions for EU citizenship – especially, a common identity – are lacking. In response it develops the notion of ‘reasonable composite selves’, selves who are able to appropriately order their own multiple and varied roles, affiliations and commitments, and to respect other persons’ justifiable, multiple, and varied roles, affiliations, and commitments. This idea, taken together with that of a ‘community of rights’, forms the basis for a conception of political community suitable for the EU and for other political frameworks beyond the nation-state.

in Supranational Citizenship
Lynn Dobson

Chapter 10 moves from considering relationships between agents conceived simply as individuals toward considering agents conceived as members of bounded groups. It addresses the question: what part ought values and conceptions of the good life play in a supranational polity containing a diversity of ways of life? Should the EU be perfectionist, or adhere instead to liberal neutrality? The chapter articulates four guiding principles which together define ‘impartial perfectionism’, in which the EU framework even-handedly assures and affirms diversity of morally acceptable ways of life. Impartial perfectionism is a public philosophy that all in a pluralistic EU can subscribe to, it is argued, because it actively promotes public mutual recognition of each as culturally situated holders of universal human rights and differing ethical attachments. Moreover, impartial perfectionism at EU level, because it guarantees citizens a context of choice, requires a wide degree of latitude be left to member states to decide matters of value and ethos. It is claimed that this is the nature of the good supranational polity.

in Supranational Citizenship
Abstract only
Lynn Dobson

Working in normative theory, the book presents a new theory of citizenship simpliciter: as an institutional role permitting moral agency within a complex and differentiated institutional space. Further, in today’s world of complex rule-making interdependence the prospects for democratically authoritative decision-making beyond the state depends on our being able to develop a new conception of citizenship, one able to accommodate national affiliation but not be bound by it, and one able to be institutionally and thus politically consequential. The Conclusion summarises the author’s response to this problem: a conception of supranational citizenship as the institutional embodiment of the active and collective agency of reasonable composite selves in a community of rights, shaping their common and separate destinies under conditions of political equality and mutual recognition and respect. Whatever its territorial scope, insofar as that citizenship consists in effective powers and constitutes a political order conducing to the well-being and freedom of individuals, it authorises and justifies the framework of political authority. Additionally the chapter suggests in what ways the book contributes to Gewirth scholarship and to international political theory more generally.

in Supranational Citizenship