Category Archives: Politics

Religious Exemptions Volume

For people interested in the normative dimensions of religious exemptions, Michael Weber and I have just published a new anthology of articles with Oxford University Press. We’re very happy with the volume, and we have a number of top-notch philosophers and legal theorists writing on these important topics. Another attractive feature of the book is that it engages the question of when religious exemptions are justified, and not just when they are constitutional.

You can buy the book here. If you would like a review copy, please email me privately at kevinvallier-at-gmail-dot-com.

Here’s the jacket description. read more...

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CFP: TOWARDS FOOLPROOF DEMOCRACY: ADVANCING PUBLIC DEBATE AND POLITICAL DECISION-MAKING

The events of the year 2016 have led many critical observers to doubt the stability and longevity of democracy. Ideally, democracy effectuates the rule of reason. Debates in elected assemblies and in society as a whole should serve the process of finding best reasons for political decisions. However, the mechanisms that currently produce such decisions are vulnerable to misuse. Arguably, they need to be redesigned in an attempt to make them “foolproof” – i.e., to design them in a way to make misuse inherently impossible or to minimize its negative consequences.

Empirical evidence suggests that political agents may generally lack the required competence for deliberation and debate. Even very intelligent people systematically tend to focus on information that confirms what they already believe and dismiss information that contradicts it. Instead of seeking rational debate, people often cling to forms of modern tribalism. In addition, modern communication networks are swiftly replacing traditional print and broadcast news media. This shift presents deliberative democracy with opportunities but also risks, as these communication networks neither encourage a balanced exchange of information nor systematically check its quality. read more...

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The (un)certainty of US drone strikes

One topic that President Obama did not discuss during his SOTU address was his use of drone strikes in the so-called “War on Terror.” Perhaps this is not surprising as the President and the CIA have permitted drone strikes to occur under an unknown set of rules, supported with an unknown set of reasons. But as an academic who works in epistemology, I find the level of uncertainty here reckless, and as a citizen, I find it terrifying.

Read more here: http://www.loyno.edu/~rbrice/research_nearcertainty.htm

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New Book — Commercium: Critical Theory from a Cosmopolitan Point of View

by Brian Milstein

Since the end of the Cold War, there has been a wealth of discussion and controversy about the idea of a “postnational” or “cosmopolitan” politics. Yet while we have seen many normative theories of cosmopolitanism (David Held, Thomas Pogge) and some cosmopolitan-oriented theories of globalization (Ulrich Beck, Gerard Delanty), there has been little attempt to grapple systematically with fundamental questions of structure and action from a cosmopolitan perspective.

This book departs from previous theoretical treatments of contemporary world politics in that, instead of adopting the conventional image of essentially bounded nation-states that are just recently becoming interdependent with one another, it takes societies to be already essentially interconnected and analyzes their differentiation into a system of sovereign nation-states. Drawing from the cosmopolitan writings of Immanuel Kant and the critical theory of Jürgen Habermas, this book argues that, before we are members of nations, states, or other bounded communities, we are originally participants in what Kant called a commercium of global interaction who are able to negotiate for ourselves the terms on which we share the earth in common with one another. It marshals a broad range of literature from philosophy, sociology, and international relations to show how the modern system of sovereign states destructively impedes, constrains, and distorts these relations of global interaction, producing contradictions and legitimation problems in present-day world society. read more...

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New Book – ‘Uniting Mississippi: Democracy and Leadership in the South’

Cover of 'Uniting Mississippi,' featuring a "unity candlelight vigil" at the University of Mississippi from 2012.By Eric Thomas Weber, associate professor of Public Policy Leadership at the University of Mississippi.

Available in paperback, ~$20 (Amazon US, UK, Canada).

About the book:

Uniting Mississippi applies a new, philosophically informed theory of democratic leadership to Mississippi’s challenges. Governor William F. Winter has written a foreword for the book, supporting its proposals.

The book begins with an examination of Mississippi’s apparent Catch-22, namely the difficulty of addressing problems of poverty without fixing issues in education first, and vice versa. These difficulties can be overcome if we look at their common roots, argues Eric Thomas Weber, and if we practice virtuous democratic leadership. Since the approach to addressing poverty has for so long been unsuccessful, Weber reframes the problem. The challenges of educational failure reveal the extent to which there is a caste system of schooling. Certain groups of people are trapped in schools that are underfunded and failing. The ideals of democracy reject hierarchies of citizenship, and thus, the author contends, these ideals are truly tested in Mississippi. Weber offers theories of effective leadership in general and of democratic leadership in particular to show how Mississippi’s challenges could be addressed with the guidance of common values. read more...

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CFA: Political Theory and the European Union, MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory

MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory, University of Manchester, 1st – 3rd September 2015

Convenors:
Giulia Bistagnino (University of Milan), giulia.bistagnino@unimi.it
Pamela Pansardi (University of Pavia), pamela.pansardi@unipv.it

The workshop aims at bringing together scholars interested in the normative dimension of the European Union.
Political theory has traditionally been concerned with nation-states and their institutions, while more recently its scope has been widening by tackling questions about the global world. The EU, understood as a sort of intermediate entity of a distinctive nature, has become a prominent object of research to reflect on political problems. Today, the financial and political crises taking place in Europe have shown not only the vulnerability of EU’s institutions, but also the urgency to provide conceptual and normative tools to assess the EU and evaluate its decisions. Indeed, since the creation of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and the establishment of the Maastricht Treaty, the focus of EU integration has been set on legal and economic aspects only and academic discourses have been trapped into technical and economical debates with little attention for normative issues. A reflection on the nature and scope of the EU and an assessment of its problems and dilemmas is thus pressing and represents a fundamental task for normative political theory. read more...

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