Shared Flashcard Set


Political Concepts, Philosophical Theory
Political Studies
Undergraduate 4

Additional Political Studies Flashcards





Definition of Pluralism (Pluralism v. Relativism) [Raz]


o   There are multiple true values that are incompatible or incommensurable with each other

o   What is the difference between pluralism and relativism?

§  Moral Pluralism- you can’t reduce the one value compared to another. You can’t even make the comparison, whereas with relativism, you compare values in context with each other. One person believes their value to be true. 


 Incommensurability [Raz]


o   The reason why it’s impossible to compare all values because there is no common denominator to reduce all the values too.

o   There is no “master value” to which all other values can be reduced

o   Pluralists reduce the choices to something else, but there is something about those choices are incomparable

o   McKinnion: Comparing the values of money and friendships. What if you could actually engage in some kind of comparison? Assigning monetary values to friendships

o   When you choose one way of life, you are excluded from a different way of life (Moneyball example; you can be a nun or a Mom, but not both)


·      Practical Incompatibility [Raz]


o   You only have one choice to make

o   You have to choose between being in an environmentalist group or a big business capitalist group. You can’t “bulldoze yourself”


·      Pluralism and Toleration


o   McKinnion: Incommensurability isn’t desirable.

o   There has to be an additional normative argument.

o   If nothing really ever fits together, that alone doesn’t lead to a normative claim to get you to be tolerant


·      Raz: Connects toleration to a wider notion of the Harm Principle


o   A forward looking aspect: government regulations

o   Example: Taxes

§  The government taxes you which takes away your autonomy of the free choice to give your money to the government.

§  Its better for the government to tax you for education. Without education, you don’t know the options ahead of you


·      Rights-based perception of harm


o   Now that we know we are in an egalitarian, pluralist society, how does the government adjudicate the competing interests (environmentalists and bulldozers)

Rights based approach: Notion of Harm. You have the right not to be harmed, but people have the right to do things that may harm you. Where do you draw the line? 

Reason and Rationality (John Rawls) 

o   Reason and rationality can’t get us to agree on the philosophical character of the world (whatever that may be)

o   Suppose people are reasonable and have a sense of justice, and are willing to accept the burdens of judgement- then we can see ourselves as free and equal citizens

o   When we get to this point, we have “elbow room” to find ways to get along with each other.

o   Your associations with different things come with a different set of reasons (like whether or not you’re in a rotary club, army, university, etc.)


·      Public Reason (Rawls)


o   The kinds of reasons that we should find acceptable if we truly saw ourselves as free and equal

o   Public reason should be in operation at the most basic form of institutions and politics, like forming a constitution and forming the structure of a regime.

o   Public reason should apply in other areas—like when judges are making a decision on the Supreme Court. The reason they use to justify their decisions should be public reasons. Reasons for legislatures to write laws should have public reason for justification. Candidates for election should be using public reason, etc. 


·      Duty of public reason (Civility of Public Reason)


o   Doesn’t apply to the background culture of society

o   There isn’t a need for public reason in other aspects of life outside of governmental institutions (i.e., running your business, how to raise your family)

o   When you are representing other associations, you are not “wearing the citizen hat”

o   Public reason is NOT about truth—it is how citizens relate to each other and other public institutions. What you say between private citizens is private reason

What is the content of pubic reason and duty of civility?  

o   The content (according to Rawls), the basic principles and values that we as citizens would reasonably endorse


·      The Original Position (Rawls)


o   A hypothetical contract regarding our basic principles and values.

o   What principles will you accept as a free and equal citizen if you were placed in a fair decision situation? (where people can’t bully you or appeal to outside opinions). What would you agree upon


·      Principles of Justice (Rawls)


o   You are free of all identifiers (Religion, Gender, Age, etc.) and are asked what principles to govern us. The only way is to not know who you are

o   Everything (rights, liberties, etc.) is distributed the same

§  Everyone has an equal right to vote, speak, assemble, etc.

§  At least gives you content for public reason which answers basic constitutional questions

o   Liberties that represent meaningful options for all society ensure distributive justice


·      The Proviso


o   Allows comprehensive doctrines to enter into the pubic real under certain conditions

§  Provided that in due course you have public political reasons that are sufficient to support the doctrine

§  You can bring into the public sphere conclusions from your doctrine as long as they are in concert with public reasons

§  Can help bring stability to a regime


·      Incompossibility (Rawls)


o   It’s possible for one reasonable person to pursue their perception of the good that prevents the other person from pursuing their perception of the good.

o   The case of Larry the pornographer and Andrea the feminist. Both are free and equal citizens and believe in the right to free speech. How can they live together?

o   How do you deal with cooperation with so much diversity?

o   According to Incompossibility, you have to convince the other person that they are wrong


·      Offenses (Feingold): Liberal Tradition of Harm


o   There are things that offend you when you live your life, and you are harmed when you are offended

o   6 categories

§  1: Something that affronts your senses- like a smelly person on the bus

§  2: Something someone is doing disgusts or revolts you

§  3: shock to moral, patriotic, or religious values- like burning a flag or protesting a military funeral

§  4: Shame or Embarrassment

§  5:Annoyance- “inane chatter”

§  6: Fear or Resentment- Prejudice, racism, sexism, etc.


·      Profound Offenses (Feingold)


o   1:Not trivial- something that is an enduring issue

o   2: Mere knowledge that it’s happening is enough for you to be harmed or offended

o   3: Occurs at a higher sensibility- can’t just be at a sensory level, is the result of a thought process

o   4: Offended because you actually think its wrong, not the other way around. You already think its wrong when you encounter it

o   5: Impersonal. The action isn’t against you personally, but you are still offended by it.

Realism (International Theory) [Rawls]
  • Realists tend to argue that in order to understand state behavior, you have to understand the international system as anarchic and inherently selfish. Their goal is to help themselves
  • Distribution of power in the system
  • We should focus on states that pose the biggest threat
  • Toleration-- in the beginning of the Vietnam War, realists were aginst it because it wasn't the most threatening state. 
Cosmopolitism (Tan)
  • Not the distribution of power in the system, but how states are treating their people and protecting their individual liberties
  • Protecting human rights wherever human beings are found, no matter what type the regime is. 
  • Types of societies: Reasonable Liberal People's, Decent Societies, Outlaw Societies, Burdened Societies, Benevolent Societies
  • Law of Peoples: rules of cooperation that are agreed to by reasonable societies

Rawls 2nd Original Position (International)


  • Representatives of liberal societies get together on a global original position and establish things we can universally agree on (collectively)
  • 7 things that make up the 2nd original position:
    • 1- People are free and independent
    • 2- People's observe treaties
    • 3- People's are equal
    • 4- Duty of non-internvetion
    • 5- People have a right to self-defense
    • 6- Honor and human rights
    • 7- Just Wat
  • Any reasonable person or state should agree to these things
  • Applies to liberal societies and non-liberal, decent hierarchical states
Outlaw States
  • Outlaw states should change their ways if they are violating human rights (Economic sanctions, Political Pressure, Possible use of force)
  • Do not suscribe to the law of peoples, and should not be tolerates.
  • Rawls- If its all about power and violence, then what's the point??
Cosmopolitan Critique (Tan)
  • What we understand to be human rights are the same things that we would agree on to a domestic level
  • What we would agree to on an autonomous level are the same things we should think about globally
  • Cosmopolitanism- concerned fundamentally with protecting human rights and creating a situation for people to choose the right lives for themselves
  • We shouldn't criticize regimes that are allowing people autonomous success
  • We can permit non-liberal groups because it will absorb a larger liberal culture
Right to Dissent [Tan]
  • If you want to exit a place, you can "opt-out" of the states policies
  • Example: If you don't like the Catholic Church, you can leave and follow a different religion. If you don't like their neighborhood, you can move to a different one. 
  • Respect of "urgent" human rights- you have to respond to natural disasters
  • Why do people want to include human rights but not liberal values? No obligation and the fact that we would like to make sure the world doesn't dissolve into power politics.
Tan's Critique of Rawls 2nd Original Position
  • What if a person can't leave a country, and they like their poor conditions. They're not dissenting. According to Tan, we should be even more concerned of a state where no one is dissenting
  • Political indoctrination can make people not dissent
  • Right to Exit: the cost of exit is unreasonable and it doesn't necessarily come with the right to be accepted. You don't have a right to enter.
Wendy Brown's View on Tolerance
  • A shift in the notion on how one interprets toleration, a different take. View is critical, and will bring us into a different kind of literature.
  • She focuses on your tolerance, as opposed to toleration
  • Trying to focus away from standard philosophical questions. Turns to how tolerance is used
  • Critical of tolerance, but not against it. There is a difference between your personal ethic of tolerance, and political discourse
Tolerance as a Personal Ethic [Brown]
  • Willingness to abide with what offends you
  • Brown says this is fine!
  • Doesn't want to push this idea very hard as to why we should tolerate. Not interested in this question.
  • Focus on tolerance is on things we dislike
Tolerance as Political Discourse
  • More concerned with how the notion of tolerance functions in political language
  • Not why should we be tolerant, but what kind of work does tolerance do politically?
Definition of Discourse [Brown]
  • Discourses are not merely conversations or ways we go about talking to each other. Discourses according to Picot and Brown are ideas, attitudes, norms, rules, that bind together and do certain things.
  • How we come to understand who we are (not something that is bestowed upon you, is socially constructed)
  • Brown is interested in how discourse is used to form political identities.
  • Our identities become more certain through a process that we can push off others. We judge our identities as different from others. Compare our views to others. 
Subjectivity and Power [Brown]
  • Subjectivity: something that is constructed by discourses. What makes up constructivism. Tolerance is involved in the construction of subjectivity, and then power
  • Power: is conveyed and expresses through the construction of identity. Construction itself is a kid of power
Locke, Genealogy, and Governmentality
  • What Locke focuses upon are beliefs. Can we tolerate objectionable religious beliefs?
  • Today, we don't tolerate beliefs, we tolerate identities (Brown)
  • Political discourse is based on identity, not belief
  • When Locke is writing about toleration, what is being produced by discourse? Juridicial Subject is being produced
  • Sovereign power can shape your objectivity, but can't mold or shape your desires
  • Governmentality: all of the formal mechanisms, norms, rules, that control and subjectivize you. 
Political Tolerance (Brown)
  • Tolerance forms identities
  • Tells us how we should live our lives
  • Tolerance doesn't always imply equality or justice
    • Tolerance is just a substitute for these things. Essentially allows these things to happen
    • Legitimizes social forms of inequality


How tolerance is used in formal governmentality [Brown]
  • Formerly, a King would issue a legal edict saying "we now tolerate these religions" (which basically meant we won't kill you, throw you in jail, and burn down your church)
  • Brown- we are moving on from the formal language of legal edicts, but an actual notion of formal equality and justice. 
    • Political discourse of tolerance constitutes the identity of the west, and therefore constitutes the identities of the world. 
    • Breaks down fundamental "worlds": autonomous, civilized, fundamentalist, etc.
    • West is marked as "superior"
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