On 18 November 2016, the Just World Institute (with the support of Edinburgh University’s Social Responsibility and Sustainability) organised an Ethics Forum with the title ‘Should universities restrict civil disobedience and student activism?’.
Read our report below.
Universities are often a central place for student activism. In recent years, the University of Edinburgh has seen occupations, campaigns, and actions that have put students in confrontation with University management. Across the UK, there have been cases of students being arrested, prosecuted, and suspended for disobedience and activism on their campuses. How tolerant should universities be towards student activism and disobedience? What role does protest serve in higher education institutions? Continue reading
Political Theory Reading Group
Over the past academic year, some of the staff and students working in political theory have held a regular reading group, initiated by Mihaela Mihai. Continue reading
Political Theory Research Group seminar series: 15 Jun 2016
Ancient Greek ethicists assumed that human beings have a single overarching supreme good, which is eudaimonia, or ‘happiness’, and that this is the final end of every human action. On the Epicurean view, eudaimonia, or in Latin felicitas, or in English ‘felicity’, consists in the state of being free from pain and a life of pleasure.
Political Theory Research Group seminar series: 18 May 2016
Photo: Marc Veraart
Political Theory Research Group seminar series: 11 May 2016
Photo: United Nations
In “Hunger’s Unwitting Executioners”, Elizabeth Ashford argues that the persistence of severe poverty should be understood as a structural human rights violation, and that defending this thesis does not require defending the more contentious claims of theorists such as Thomas Pogge. On her analysis, the persistence of severe poverty is a predictable, avoidable, and unjustifiable infliction of severe harm, caused by ongoing patterns of behaviour at a global level. Crucially, she does not target responsibility exclusively on existing coercive social institutions, but rather identifies a ‘shared duty to prevent structural human rights violations’ that is held by individuals born in affluent countries, wherein each is partially responsible for its fulfilment. This duty can be discharged by taking action for structural reform. Continue reading
Political Theory Research Group seminar series: 4 May 2016
Will we have a global parliament or another way to address the global challenges that we are faced with today, such as climate change, social inequalities and wars? What will the future of the global governance system look like? These questions are very challenging to tackle, but Markus Fraundorfer’s fascinating paper ‘Democratising global governance’ aims to answer them. Continue reading
Political Theory Research Group seminar series: 27 Apr 2016
Lukas’s paper examines the distinctions between permissible and impermissible or transgressive dissent in liberal states. He notes the apparent inconsistency in some legal and political decisions between the decision makers’ commitment to a broadly Millian principle of freedom of speech on the one hand and their enforcement of decisions which contravene this principle on the other. Thus while these people should only place restrictions on those cases of dissenting speech which lead to harm, they seem to also place restrictions in instances where it appears that the harm principle is not violated. Continue reading
Political Theory Research Group seminar series: 19 Apr 2016
Slavery monument, Zanzibar
How should we think theoretically and historically about the aftermath of conflicts? In a chapter from her forthcoming book Justice and Reconciliation in International Relations, Catherine Lu argues that two distinct frameworks for rectifying historic injustice can contribute through a fruitful interaction: interactional injustice and structural injustice. In the literature, the focus is usually on an interactional framework, in which a direct line of responsibility and wrongdoing by one party upon another is mapped. For instance, in the Iraq War civilians who lost family members due to US bombings could be given monetary compensation. Continue reading
Photo: Frank Roche
Every single country in the world has a policy of naturalisation. This means that once an immigrant who is not a citizen of their country of residence fulfils certain criteria, they can obtain citizenship of their country of residence. In some cases, naturalisation is fairly straightforward, particularly in South American countries. Here, it sometimes only takes a few years of permanent residence in order to qualify for citizenship. In other countries, naturalisation is very difficult. In Italy, a person is required to have had at least ten years of continuous permanent residence in order to be eligible for naturalisation. However, there is currently no country on the planet that does not have a policy of naturalisation, even if some countries are extremely strict in granting citizenship to non-citizens. With increasing levels of international migration flows, naturalisation is becoming an important issue for more and more people. Continue reading
Political Theory Research Group seminar series: 13 Apr 2016
Photo: AndrewHorne (talk)
In recent years, it has often been argued that political theory is too abstracted from reality. Realists contend that when political theory begins from abstract principles about how society ought ideally to be structured it misses what is distinctive about politics: the ineliminable role of power, conflict and historical context. Debates about idealisation in political theory question if and to what extent facts about the world should be incorporated into normative theorising. The first is about where political thought should start (normativity or politics), the second about the fact-sensitivity of normative theory (more or less idealisation). Continue reading