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This chapter examines economic rationalism, a discourse of environmental problem solving which builds on its advances in all areas of political life to generate alternatives to and remedies for the pathologies it identifies in both administration and liberal democratic governance. Economic rationalism may be defined by its commitment to the intelligent deployment of market mechanisms to achieve public ends. It differs from administrative rationalism in its hostility to environmental management by government administrators — except in establishing the basic parameters of designed markets. The chapter first considers the issue of privatization and private property rights before discussing less radical strands that stress market incentives but not necessarily private property. It also describes the discourse analysis of economic rationalism and concludes with an assessment of the limitations of economic rationalism, including its treatment of government.

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6. Leave It to the Market  

Economic Rationalism

Economic rationalism involves the intelligent deployment of market instruments to achieve public ends such as environmental protection and resource conservation. The instruments in question can involve the establishment of private property rights in land, air, and water; “cap and trade” markets in pollution rights (emissions trading); tradeable quotes in resources such as fish; green taxes, such as a carbon tax; and the purchase of offsets to compensate for environmentally damaging behavior. These instruments have been adopted in many countries, though with some resistance from those who believe there is more to life than economic reasoning.

Chapter

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

This chapter addresses the value of equality of opportunity and assesses its implication for the design of the school system, arguing for the radical conclusion that the state should prohibit elite private schools. It begins by outlining how elite private schools create inequalities in prospects between children, and develops an account of why this is morally problematic. A challenge to the chapter’s argument comes from those who reject equality of opportunity in favour of educational adequacy. The chapter then considers the possibility that it is wrong for the state to prohibit elite private schools because this interferes too much in family life. It offers a framework for assessing which choices should be protected on these grounds, and argues that the choice to send one’s child to an elite private school does not fall in this set.

Chapter

This chapter examines Marxism as a normative political theory. It begins with a discussion of two strands of contemporary analytic Marxism’s critique of, and alternative to, liberal theories of justice. One strand rejects the very idea of justice. According to Marxists, justice seeks to mediate conflicts between individuals, whereas communism overcomes those conflicts, and hence overcomes the need for justice. The second strand shares liberalism’s emphasis on justice, but rejects the liberal belief that justice is compatible with private ownership of the means of production. Within this second strand, there is a division between those who criticize private property on the grounds of exploitation, and those who criticize it on the grounds of alienation. The chapter also explores non-Marxist conceptions of social democracy and social justice before concluding with an overview of the politics of Marxism.

Chapter

David Bates

This chapter examines the key ideas and concepts of ‘classical’ anarchist thinkers. Among the ideas associated with anarchism are: a belief in the potential of human nature, and a corresponding critique of arbitrary authority; a refusal of state authority; a rejection of the institution of private property; militant atheism; and an emphasis on the importance of revolutionary politics. The chapter first considers how anarchist views on human nature, the state, political action, private property, and religion vary, and where possible, what unites them. It then discusses recent critical responses to anarchism, particularly ‘post-anarchism’, and specific historical examples of anarchism. It also analyses the extent to which anarchism can be regarded as a cohesive political ideology.

Chapter

This chapter examines various strands of feminist theory, with particular emphasis on three feminist criticisms of the way mainstream political theories attend, or fail to attend, to the interests and concerns of women. The first argument focuses on the ‘gender-neutral’ account of sex discrimination, the second is concerned with the public–private distinction, and the third claims that the very emphasis on justice is itself reflective of a male bias. These arguments represent three of the most sustained points of contact between feminism and mainstream political philosophy. The chapter also considers two different conceptions of the public–private distinction in liberalism: the first deals with the relationship between civil society and the state, or between the social sphere and the political sphere; the second emphasizes the right to privacy. It concludes with an analysis of the ethic of care as opposed to the ‘ethic of justice’.

Chapter

Jeremy Waldron

This chapter examines and defends the relevance of John Locke's writings as political philosophy. Locke's political philosophy continues to have an enormous impact on the framing and the pursuit of liberal ideas in modern political thought — ideas about social contract, government by consent, natural law, equality, individual rights, civil disobedience, and private property. The discussion and application of Locke's arguments is thus an indispensable feature of political philosophy as it is practised today. After providing a short biography of Locke, the chapter considers his views on equality and natural law, property, economy, and disagreement, as well as limited government, toleration, and the rule of law. It concludes with an assessment of Locke's legacy as a political thinker.

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Roland Erne

This chapter examines the role that interest groups play in political systems across time and space. Many scholars define interest groups as voluntary organizations that appeal to government but do not participate in elections. In a comparative context, however, this formal definition is problematic as the form of interest representation varies across countries. An alternative suggestion is to distinguish ‘public’ and ‘private interest groups’, but the term ‘public interest’ is problematic because of its contentious nature. The chapter begins with a review of different definitions of interest groups and the problems associated with each. It then considers the legacies of competing theoretical traditions in the field, namely republicanism, pluralism, and neocorporatism. It also discusses the role of interest associations in practice, distinguishing different types of action that are available to different groups, including direct lobbying, political exchange, contentious politics, and private interest government.

Chapter

16. The European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions:  

consultative institutions in a multichannel democracy

Gabriele Abels

This chapter investigates the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Committee of the Regions (CoR), two bodies established in 1957 and 1992, respectively. Both Committees are consultative; their rationale is to provide expertise to EU legislators and to represent functional respectively territorial interests. These organs share a number of similarities with regard to their legal basis and policymaking influence. Both have pursued diverse activities beyond their official mandates in a quest to find their own identities and exercise voice in the EU system. This chapter analyses these committees with regard to their development, membership, and activities, illustrating how both embraced timely topics and seek to involve themselves in the larger debate on the future of Europe. Thereby, they contribute to the EU’s development as a complex, multilevel, and multichannel democracy.

Chapter

This chapter examines the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Committee of the Regions (CoR), and more specifically how they provide a focal point for organized social and regional interests. It first provides a historical background on the EESC and the CoR before discussing their functions and operations. It then considers how the development of both bodies reflects the ways in which interest mediation in the European Union has expanded, pushing these formal vehicles of social and regional interest representations to the fringes of policy networks. The chapter also explores how the EESC and the CoR contribute to European politics and concludes by assessing their added value in an open policy process with a burgeoning private lobbying sector and new groups of collective interests emerging all of the time.

Chapter

Robert Hazell and Fergus Reid

This chapter considers the ways in which backbench Members of Parliament (MPs) exploit their right to introduce legislation — known as private members' bills (PMBs). The PMB process has been criticized for allegedly being opaque, misleading, and virtually discredited inside and outside the UK Parliament. Yet, each session, more than 450 backbenchers enter the Commons PMB ballot for a priority slot. The chapter first explains the terms ‘hybrid bill’, ‘private bill’, and ‘public bill’ before discussing the difference between PMBs and government bills. It also examines the importance of time when considering PMBs, the three routes to a PMB in the House of Commons, a typical second reading Friday in the Commons, and the PMB ballot in the House of Lords. Finally, it analyses efforts to reform PMB procedures and why, despite flaws and frustrations, PMBs are seen by many MPs as a useful tool for advancing their agendas and campaigns.