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Cover Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches

4. Liberalism  

This chapter examines the liberal tradition in international relations (IR). It first considers the basic liberal assumptions, including a positive view of human nature and the belief that IR can be cooperative rather than conflictual. In their conceptions of international cooperation, liberal theorists emphasize different features of world politics. The chapter explores the ideas associated with four strands of liberal thought, namely: sociological liberalism, interdependence liberalism, institutional liberalism, and republican liberalism. It also discusses the debate between proponents of liberalism and neorealism, and it identifies a general distinction between weak liberal theories that are close to neorealism and strong liberal theories that challenge neorealism. Finally, it reviews the liberal view of world order and the notion that there is a ‘dark’ side of democracy.

Chapter

Cover Political Thinkers

29. Arendt  

Justine Lacroix

This chapter examines a number of key concepts in Hannah Arendt's work, with particular emphasis on how they have influenced contemporary thought about the meaning of human rights. It begins with a discussion of Arendt's claim that totalitarianism amounts to a destruction of the political domain and a denial of the human condition itself; this in turn had occurred only because human rights had lost all validity. It then considers Arendt's formula of the ‘right to have rights’ and how it opens the way to a ‘political’ conception of human rights founded on the defence of republican institutions and public-spiritedness. It shows that this ‘political’ interpretation of human rights is itself based on an underlying understanding of the human condition as marked by natality, liberty, plurality and action, The chapter concludes by reflecting on the so-called ‘right to humanity’.