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Book

Cover Introducing Political Philosophy

Andrew Walton, William Abel, Elizabeth Kahn, and Tom Parr

Should the state permit euthanasia? Should it prohibit recreational drug use? Should it ban hate speech? Should it grant members of minority groups exemptions from otherwise universal laws? When, if ever, should it intervene in the affairs of other states to prevent human rights abuses? All of these questions have been prominent in political debate over the last fifty years, and there remains plenty of dispute about them at the start of the 2020s. Political arguments about public policy are an apt subject of philosophical analysis—or, in other words, they present a prime opportunity to do some political philosophy. This book provides an introduction to political philosophy by theorizing about public policy. Each of the chapters draws on the tools of political philosophy to explore a distinct area of public policy. Each case identifies some of the moral threads that run through the public policy debate; explains the philosophical positions taken by the various sides; introduces the academic literature that supports these positions; and examines the strengths and weaknesses of the competing views.

Chapter

Cover Global Environmental Politics

1. Interconnections between science and politics  

This chapter discusses the complex and multifaceted relationship between science and politics. Although science and politics each follow a distinct logic and pursue distinct objectives, they are inextricably connected to one another. On the one hand, science influences political debates, by drawing attention to certain problems and providing necessary justifications for political action. On the other hand, political dynamics, including political values and power relations, structure the conduct of science. The chapter highlights the different aspects of the co-production of science and politics, in the framework of international environmental debates. An increasing number of studies on global environmental governance suggest that science and politics are co-produced. As they shape each other, it is impossible to understand one without considering the other. Political interactions are partly based on available knowledge, and scientific production is a social practice that is conditioned by its political context.

Chapter

Cover Political Ideologies

8. Reviewing the ‘classical’ legacy  

Left–right politics in the age of ideology

Paul Wetherly

This chapter examines the legacy of the ‘classical’ ideologies in terms of their European origins, expansion, and dominance. Classical ideologies such as liberalism, conservatism, and socialism can be understood as contrasting responses to the intellectual, social, and economic transformations known as the Enlightenment and modernization, especially industrialization and the rise of capitalism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The chapter first considers the idea that liberalism constitutes a dominant ideology before discussing the relationship between ideological principles, party politics, and statecraft. It then analyses the relationship between the classical ideologies in terms of the Enlightenment and the left–right conception of ideological debate. It also introduces the notion of ‘new’ ideologies and the extent to which the dominance of the classical ideologies can be seen in the character of the political parties that have dominated Western democracies.

Chapter

Cover International Relations Theories

17. Still a Discipline After All These Debates?  

Ole Wæver

This chapter considers how the arguments associated with the different theories of International Relations discussed in the book sum up. More specifically, it asks whether IR is (still?) a discipline, and whether it is likely to remain one. The chapter examines the intellectual and social patterns of IR and the discipline as a social system, along with its relations of power, privilege, and careers. It also reflects on where, what, and how IR is today by drawing on theories from the sociology of science, whether IR can be regarded as a subdiscipline within political science, and the social structure of IR. It argues that the discipline of international relations is likely to continue whether or not ‘international relations’ remains a distinct or delineable object. It also contends that the core of the intellectual structure in the discipline of IR has been recurring ‘great debates’.

Chapter

Cover Global Politics

3. Power  

This chapter explores power within global politics by challenging the myth that power is a coercive force that elite actors utilise to promote their interests. It also expounds on Steven Lukes’ ‘three faces of power’ debate to clarify how power works at both obvious and hidden levels. The chapter then introduces the concept of power relations and how they influence the political world and people’s opinions and values. It also discusses how power produces knowledge, social norms, and identities. Finally, the chapter uncovers some of the subtle ways power influences the everyday lives of people, and how an awareness of power relations raises the possibility of resistance and change in global politics.

Chapter

Cover Exploring Parliament

13. Small Parties and Law-making  

Margaret Arnott and Richard Kelly

This chapter discusses the role of smaller parties in the law-making process. General elections in the UK are conducted with an electoral system which militates against the representation of smaller political parties, particularly those having no strong support at the regional level. However, events at Westminster over the last decade have increased the prominence of smaller parties in the operation of parliamentary business. The chapter first considers the role of small parties in the UK Parliament, committees and legislation, as well as their participation in backbench debates before examining how the political and electoral context of Parliament, especially in the twenty-first century, has affected the representation of smaller parties and the ways in which reforms to parliamentary procedure since the 1980s have enhanced the role of the second opposition party. It suggests that Parliament today offers more opportunities for smaller political parties to influence debate and policy, but this remains quite limited.