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disobey an unjust but legal decision; the remarkable thing is that he decided to obey, for what he thought were sound reasons, in circumstances that would cost him his life. Socrates believed people had a moral duty to obey the law. It is a very strict duty based on an agreement they have made. 1 What is distinctive about the agreement argument Socrates assented to (in the Crito ) is that it puts the issue in terms of

in Political concepts

believe that this way of representing rights both makes sense formally and is more in tune with everyday moral language than other formal accounts of rights discussed here. First, however, we argue that the allure of rights compossibility should be avoided. The non-compossibility of Sen rights Rights may seem obviously non-compossible. The most striking examples are entitlements, though rights in any form are not manifestly compossible. For example, if I claim a right to free speech and you claim a right not to be subject to abuse, something must give way if I want to

in Power, luck and freedom
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continental philosophy itself has, in recent times, been marked by a general return to the question of ethics. Thinkers such as Derrida and Lyotard, for instance, turned later in their work to more explicit ethical concerns, the former through Levinas, and the latter through Aristotle and Kant. The seeming paradox here is that the postmodern condition, with which such thinkers have been generally associated, is seen to imply a breakdown of moral metanarratives and a decline of the idea of a universal moral position. Instead of Kant’s categorical imperative – in which ethics

in Unstable universalities
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so, do we have a responsibility to help the less well off beyond these borders? A whole range of positions are taken which often cut across the cosmopolitan–communitarian divide favoured by such theorists who work within the field of international relations as Chris Brown, Janna Thompson, Charles Jones and Peter Sutch. 1 Cosmopolitanism points to the justification of our moral principles as having a universal basis. For the

in Political concepts
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Why it matters

2 Social equality: why it matters Adam Smith: moral economy before political economy Adam Smith is often celebrated as the father – or apologist – of free trade capitalism, but Smith did not believe that commerce and profits trumped everything else, as he made clear in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which he published in 1759. There he embraced human happiness as the standard of civility and the aim of organized society; commerce was but the handmaiden for the good of all. It was not greed for profit that was to magically lead to the wealth of nations, nor the

in The great forgetting

advocate a traditional view (Pascal had done the same), neither was Rousseau the first to reject the prevailing positivist doctrine. Nor, for that matter, was he the last to do so (Kierkegaard was later to strike similar chords). But Rousseau was possibly the most eloquent – and the most misunderstood – of the antimodernists.4 John Locke, not normally regarded as an anti-modernist, warned against the challenge of the atheist philosophers in The Reasonableness of Christianity: ‘Collect all the moral rules of philosophers and compare them with those contained in the New

in The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
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Transnational activism and state power in China

The tale of transnational advocacy networks (TANs) is typically one of non-state actors reshaping world politics through the power of persuasion and principled ideas. This book is about the unromantic and often uncomfortable realities of transnational advocacy in a strong authoritarian state and rising world power. Drawing together case studies that span a range of issues, repertoires, and results of advocacy, it elaborates the constitutive role of the state in contemporary transnational activism. Because transnational networks are significant globally and domestically, the book speaks to students of comparative and international politics, bridging what is treated here as a superficial divide between the sub-fields. It discusses the campaigns around justice for Falun Gong and the strengthening of intellectual property rights in China. The book then traces the campaign around HIV/AIDS treatment, and the effort to abolish capital punishment in China. In the campaign for Tibetan independence, Chinese intransigence on the matter of national sovereignty for Tibet produced a split within the TAN. The book argues that that TANs can be effective when a legitimacy-seeking state deems the adoption of new policy positions in a given issue area to be critical for the preservation of its own moral authority and power monopoly. The key to working more effectively in China, therefore, is to recognize the source of Chinese Communist Party legitimacy and the connectedness of an issue to it. Those wishing to approach China recognize and take seriously the Chinese power to shape global issues and campaigns in support of them.

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A realist theory of liberal politics

Events at the beginning of the twenty-first century have served to demonstrate to us the truth of the insight at the heart of the recent renewed interest in realist political theory that politics is characterized by inevitable and endemic disagreement and conflict. Yet much contemporary liberal political theory has taken place against the backdrop of an assumed widespread consensus on liberal values and principles. A central theoretical question for our day is therefore whether liberalism is a theory of politics consonant with the modern world or whether it is grounded in untenable theoretical presumptions and foundations.

This monograph offers the first comprehensive overview of the resurgence of interest in realist political theory and develops a unique and urgent defense of liberal politics in realist terms. Through explorations of the work of a diverse range of thinkers, including Bernard Williams, John Rawls, Raymond Geuss, Judith Shklar, John Gray, Carl Schmitt and Max Weber, the author advances a theory of liberal realism that is consistent with the realist emphasis on disagreement and conflict yet still recognizably liberal in its concern with respecting individuals’ freedom and constraining political power. The result is a unique contribution to the ongoing debates surrounding realism and an original and timely re-imagining of liberal theory for the twenty-first century. This provocative work will be of interest to students and all concerned with the possibility of realizing liberalism and its moral aspirations in today’s world.

). Secondly, Tawney’s contribution is the most penetrating, distinctive and lasting in terms of supplying the English left with an ethical basis and I contend that, historically, the moral basis of social democracy is best understood through an appreciation of Tawney’s Christian socialism. Thirdly, Keynesian demand management replaced neo-classical economics and was adopted as the West

in These Englands

). Similarly, to proclaim that power relationships necessarily involve a clash of interests (usually an important element for those who see ‘power over’ as the only legitimate use of the concept of social or political power) is also to bring into the concept a strongly moralized component. It is these strongly moralized components of some uses of the term power that lead it to be proclaimed ‘essentially contestable’. What is essentially contested, of course, is different views about the way society ought to be governed. If these moral or ideological viewpoints are built into

in Power, luck and freedom