Author Archives: s1000816

Elizabeth Ashford – Hunger’s Unwitting Executioners

Political Theory Research Group seminar series: 11 May 2016

Photo: United Nations

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

Markus Fraundorfer – Democratising global governance

Political Theory Research Group seminar series: 4 May 2016

PTRG seminar 4May16

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

Lukas Slothuus – Transgressive dissent in liberal states

Political Theory Research Group seminar series: 27 Apr 2016

PTRG seminar 27Apr16

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

Catherine Lu – Justice and Reconciliation in International Relations

Political Theory Research Group seminar series: 19 Apr 2016

Slavery monument, Zanzibar Photo: Seyemon

Slavery monument, Zanzibar
Photo: Seyemon

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

Kieran Oberman – Immigration, Citizenship, and Consent: What is Wrong with Permanent Alienage?

Photo: Frank Roche

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

Simon Hope – Idealization, Justice, and the Form of Practical Reason

Political Theory Research Group seminar series: 13 Apr 2016

Photo: AndrewHorne (talk)

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

Bashir Saade – ISIS and Game of Thrones: The Global between Tradition, Identity and the Politics of Spectacle

Political Theory Research Group seminar series: 6 Apr 2016

Photo: Anonymous Iraqi citizens in Iraq

Bashir Saade’s paper offers a far-reaching discussion of issues surrounding identity, authority, and tradition, considered with reference to ISIS. A central objective of Bashir’s paper is to examine the relationship between modern audio-visual technologies and cultural identities, more specifically he looks to address how ISIS combines cutting edge AV practices with repeated attempts to harken back to historical social configurations. Related to this is his attempt to assess the extent to which ISIS can be said to be an Islamic organisation. Here he considers how ISIS ideologues employ highly selective excerpts from scriptural and historical texts in order to legitimise acts of extreme violence. Continue reading

Masa Mrovlje – Existential Aesthetic Judging Sensibility, Worldly Recognition and the Political Significance of Narrative Imagination: Confronting the Tragic Nature of Political Affairs

Political Theory Research Group seminar series: 30 Mar 2016

Hannah Arendt Photo: Wikipedia

Hannah Arendt
Photo: Saibo

In contemporary political philosophy, particularly in transitional justice debates, narrative has been taken to play a prominent practical role.  Thinkers such as Martha Nussbaum, Richard Rorty and Paul Ricoeur have argued that narrative-inspired imagination is able to facilitate our capacity of critical and reflective political judgement and public deliberation.  Critics, meanwhile, have questioned this ability of narrative. Continue reading

Euan MacDonald – Legitimacy as Liberty

Political Theory Research Group seminar series:  23 Mar 2016

Photo: William M. Connolley

Photo: William M. Connolley

“People often talk about ‘legitimacy’ without knowing what it exactly means”, said Euan MacDonald at the very beginning of the PTRG seminar last week, and this is exactly what motivated him to write the paper ‘Legitimacy as Liberty’. His aim, in short, was to specify as precisely as possible what this word means, rather than engaging in the substantial discussion of what makes something legitimate. Continue reading

Mathias Thaler – Genealogy as Critique: Problematizing Definitions of Terrorism

Political Theory Research Group seminar series: 16 Mar 2016

Photo: Flickr

Photo: Robert

Mathias Thaler observes how the term ‘terrorism’ is used by individuals and groups to denounce or delegitimise their opponents. These frequent and varied rhetorical uses of terrorism pose a problem for political theorists who want to better understand terrorism and the moral wrongs associated with it. One response to this, from what Mathias terms the ‘moralist’ position, is to abstract away from the complex reality of terrorism and attempt to formulate a definition of it which is independent of politically-charged rhetoric. Such a definition can then be used as a yard stick for measuring real-world cases. Alternatively, ‘realists’ move in the opposite direction, seeing the power-laden usages of terrorism as evidence of its essentially political and manipulative character. Rather than evaluating the appropriateness of different definitions of terrorism realists instead look to better understand how all evocations of ‘terrorism’ are used to further hegemonic interests. Continue reading