Category Archives: Concepts

Prof Henry Shue – Climate Mitigation and Subsistence Protection

PTRG 13 Oct 2017

Photo: Yuki Iwaki

We are delighted to have invited Professor Henry Shue from Oxford University as the presenter for PTRG yesterday.  In the presented paper, Professor Shue critically reflects upon his earlier argument: that it is important to make a distinction between ‘subsistence emissions’ and ‘luxury emissions’, and that this distinction should be incorporated into climate policy intended to achieve mitigation.  ‘Subsistence emissions’ are emissions necessary for securing the basic right to subsistence, whereas ‘luxury emissions’ are those that exceed a minimally adequate level of emission.  According to Professor Shue, it is morally unacceptable to ask the poor to sacrifice subsistence emissions so that the affluent can maintain their luxury emissions.  Continue reading

Mathias Thaler – Hope Abjuring Hope: On the Place of Utopia in Realist Political Theory

PTRG report, 23 November 2016

(Source: RA.AZ on Flickr, CC license)

(Source: RA.AZ on Flickr, CC license)

In this week’s PTRG meeting we discussed Mathias Thaler’s paper ‘Hope Abjuring Hope’. In this paper Mathias seeks to demonstrate the role which radical, utopian thinking ought to play within ‘realist’ political theory. Continue reading

Tahl Kaminer – The Cooptation of Critique

Political Theory Research Group series 2016/17: 21 September

Hulme Crescents

Hulme Crescents, Manchester 1979 Photo credit: Alan Denney (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The 2016-17 PTRG Programme kicked off with a cross-disciplinary paper examining the interplay between political theory and architecture. Tahl’s research seeks to apply political theory frameworks not only to overtly political cases but also to approaches and case studies in architecture. In particular he focuses on the process of ‘récupération’, whereby critiques of dominant practices in either politics or architecture are ‘coopted’ by the very practices that they challenge. Through co-optation or récupération such critiques are ‘absorbed by society and transformed from a threat to the system into an integral part of it.’ Building on the work of a range of political theorists, most notably Ernesto Laclau, this paper looks to provide an analysis and reconstruction of this process in order to arrive at a model for better understanding how récupération functions within architecture. Tahl looks to situate this discussion within the context of the influential social critiques which emerged from the protest movements of 1968.

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Arash Abizadeh – Hobbes’s Theory of the Good: Felicity by Anticipatory Pleasure

Political Theory Research Group seminar series: 15 Jun 2016

PTRG with Arash Abizadeh 15Jun16


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.

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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

Luís Duarte d’Almeida – Arguing A Fortiori

Political Theory Research Group seminar series: 24 Feb 2016

Photo: Thinkstock

Photo: Thinkstock

Lawyers and courts frequently deploy a fortiori arguments, but rarely disclose the inferential steps on which they are made. This has created opaqueness in the law, and made it difficult to parse valid from fallacious cases of a fortiori reasoning. In his paper, d’Almeida attempts to build a general framework against which potential cases of a fortiori argument can be tested. Continue reading

Rowan Cruft – The Individualism of Human Rights

Political Theory Research Group seminar series: 10 Feb 2016

Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Photo: Photo: Unknown - Franklin D Roosevelt Library website

Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Photo: Unknown – Franklin D Roosevelt Library website

Rowan Cruft’s paper “The Individualism of Human Rights” explores the thesis that human rights are justified by what they do for individuals, rather than for collectives like ‘humankind’ or ideals like ‘beauty’. This means that a human right is always grounded in a feature of the individual right-holder (such as an interest, need, freedom, or capability). Rowan offers ‘the right to political participation’ as an example – the importance of your freedom of political participation is enough to ground the right, aside from any wider benefits of political participation to society or political institutions. Continue reading