Monday, June 08, 2009


Recent acquisitions now added to the reading list:

Andrew March, Islam and Liberal Citizenship The Search for an Overlapping Consensus
Some argue that Muslims have no tradition of separation of church and state and therefore can't participate in secular, pluralist society. At the other extreme, some Muslims argue that it is the duty of all believers to resist western forms of government and to impose Islamic law. Andrew F. March demonstrates that there are very strong and authentically Islamic arguments for accepting the demands of citizenship in a liberal democracy, many of them found even in medieval works of Islamic jurisprudence. In fact, he shows, it is precisely the fact that Rawlsian political liberalism makes no claims to metaphysical truth that makes it appealing to Muslims.

Daniel Nexon, The Struggle for Power in Early Modern Europe: Religious Conflict, Dynastic Empires, and International Change
Scholars have long argued over whether the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, which ended more than a century of religious conflict arising from the Protestant Reformations, inaugurated the modern sovereign-state system. But they largely ignore a more fundamental question: why did the emergence of new forms of religious heterodoxy during the Reformations spark such violent upheaval and nearly topple the old political order? In this book, Daniel Nexon demonstrates that the answer lies in understanding how the mobilization of transnational religious movements intersects with--and can destabilize--imperial forms of rule.

Taking a fresh look at the pivotal events of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries--including the Schmalkaldic War, the Dutch Revolt, and the Thirty Years' War--Nexon argues that early modern "composite" political communities had more in common with empires than with modern states, and introduces a theory of imperial dynamics that explains how religious movements altered Europe's balance of power. He shows how the Reformations gave rise to crosscutting religious networks that undermined the ability of early modern European rulers to divide and contain local resistance to their authority. In doing so, the Reformations produced a series of crises in the European order and crippled the Habsburg bid for hegemony.

Nexon's account of these processes provides a theoretical and analytic framework that not only challenges the way international relations scholars think about state formation and international change, but enables us to better understand global politics today.

Anna Stilz, Liberal Loyalty: Freedom, Obligation, and the State
Many political theorists today deny that citizenship can be defended on liberal grounds alone. Cosmopolitans claim that loyalty to a particular state is incompatible with universal liberal principles, which hold that we have equal duties of justice to persons everywhere, while nationalist theorists justify civic obligations only by reaching beyond liberal principles and invoking the importance of national culture. In Liberal Loyalty, Anna Stilz challenges both views by defending a distinctively liberal understanding of citizenship.

Drawing on Kant, Rousseau, and Habermas, Stilz argues that we owe civic obligations to the state if it is sufficiently just, and that constitutionally enshrined principles of justice in themselves--rather than territory, common language, or shared culture--are grounds for obedience to our particular state and for democratic solidarity with our fellow citizens. She demonstrates that specifying what freedom and equality mean among a particular people requires their democratic participation together as a group. Justice, therefore, depends on the authority of the democratic state because there is no way equal freedom can be defined or guaranteed without it. Yet, as Stilz shows, this does not mean that each of us should entertain some vague loyalty to democracy in general. Citizens are politically obligated to their own state and to each other, because within their particular democracy they define and ultimately guarantee their own civil rights.

Liberal Loyalty is a persuasive defense of citizenship on purely liberal grounds.

Avery Kolers, Land, Conflict, and Justice: A Political Theory of Territory
Territorial disputes have defined modern politics, but political theorists and philosophers have said little about how to resolve such disputes fairly. Is it even possible to do so? If historical attachments or divine promises are decisive, it may not be. More significant than these largely subjective claims are the ways in which people interact with land over time. Building from this insight, Avery Kolers re-evaluates existing political theories and develops an attractive alternative. He presents a novel link between political legitimacy and environmental stewardship, and applies these new ideas in an extended and balanced discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. The result is the first systematic normative theory of territory, and an impressive example of applied philosophy. In addition to political theorists and philosophers, scholars and students of sociology, international relations, and human geography will find this book rewarding, as will anyone with wider interests in territory and justice.

Plus the next batch of planned purchases and additions to the reading list:

Cary Nederman, Lineages of European Political Thought: Explorations Along the Medieval/Modern Divide from John of Salisbury to Hegel

Elisabeth Ellis, Provisional Politics: Kantian Arguments in Policy Context

Alan Houston, Benjamin Franklin and the Politics of Improvement

Andrew Jainchill, Reimagining Politics after the Terror: The Republican Origins of French Liberalism

Helena Rosenblatt, Liberal Values: Benjamin Constant and the Politics of Religion

Julian Franklin, Jean Bodin and the Rise of Absolutist Theory