Browsing by Subject "political philosophy"

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  • Minkkinen, Panu (2016)
    A review essay of Hans Lindahl, Fault Lines of Globalization (OUP, 2013).
  • Lorenzon, Marta; Wallis, Caroline (2023)
    This contribution aims to use social history and social theory to investigate political power and compliance with authority in ancient Western Asia, through the case study of Neo-Assyrian imperial building projects. Our first aim is to discuss the realities of construction work in the Neo-Assyrian Empire, focusing on the building process both through literary sources and archaeological data. Our second goal is to understand the role played by these building sites in the strengthening of local and supra-local political orders, in the consolidation of social group boundaries, and in the construction of political subjectivities of the ancient social actors involved. Our reflection sheds light on the new interpretative possibilities – and challenges – that integrating social theories, archaeological work, and language technology may create.
  • Pakonen, Elias (Helsingfors universitet, 2016)
    Martha Nussbaum's capabilities approach is an account of justice which provides a substantial list of entitlements, the ten central capabilities with the related intuitive notion of human dignity, as a tool to measure justice and construct justice claims. Nussbaum's outcome oriented approach is normative and universal but also non-metaphysical and partial, and represents political liberalism. Nussbaum considers the justice claims of people with impairments to be undertheorized in accounts of justice, and aims to include such questions in her approach. Recent critique has pointed out that Nussbaum’s approach has problems in simultaneously addressing discrimination and equal status, and remaining impartial with regard to values. The study question of this thesis asks if Nussbaum’s capabilities approach can offer substantial arguments for the justice claims of people with cognitive impairments from starting points compatible with political liberalism. To do that, the approach needs to address discrimination without referring to capability failures, as such a thing would mean strong value claims which are in contradiction with the impartiality of political liberalism. Central concepts for this study are human dignity, equal status, political liberalism, and perfectionist liberalism. I will analyze recent critique of Nussbaum’s capabilities approach, and use that to explicate the concept of human dignity. I will argue that a more detailed and explicitly prioritized conception of human dignity, and a consequential commitment to perfectionist liberalism, would enable the approach to address disability, equal status, and discrimination more efficiently. I will characterize the role of human dignity in terms of its functions and contents, which give the concept more substance and a more prioritized role. The functions of the concept show how it represents value, status, and desert. The contents of the concept characterize human beings as sociable, ethical beings with various needs. I argue that the functions and contents of human dignity together should form the perfectionist core of Nussbaum’s capabilities approach, which would then enable it to address equal status and argue against discrimination.
  • Omwami, Päiviö Maurice (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    Racism continues to be both a widely discussed topic and continuing problem within many of our societies. Yet, most of the mainstream discourse on race lacks any reference to the actual concept of race itself. This has led to a situation in which racism is understood as systematic discrimination but race itself is generally treated as a neutral and unproblematized identity category instead of a political system of oppression. In this master’s thesis I will examine the ontological relationship between the concept of race and power. The main goal is twofold. Firstly, I will show that the relationship between race and power is an inherent one. Secondly, I will show that it is not only possible but necessary to take Whiteness as a vantage point as we examine this relationship. For while we are generally accustomed to approach the topic of racism and racial injustice through the experiences of people of color, Whiteness continues to remain in the margins of our political, social, and theoretical conversations. This, I claim, results from the normalization of Whiteness that has rendered White people unable to see how race functions and affects their daily lives. I will begin by briefly examining how the ideas of race and Whiteness were historically constructed and implemented as oppressive systems. This will help us establish that race was never discovered but constructed to serve a specific purpose. From here I move onto examine the relationship between race and power through the frameworks of class and state power. First, I look at Charles Mills’ argument for why racial power relations are distinct from and transcend those of class. After this I examine how Michel Foucault conceptualizes race as a necessary technology of power to the modern state. Then I move onto examine George Yancy’s method that not only forces Whites to see the workings of race but allows us to comprehend that there is no sense in making a distinction between “good” and “bad” White people. Finally, I present my own method of asking the ethically laden question: “Is there anything good about Whiteness?” I argue that any meaningful discussions on racism must theoretically examine the historical construction of race and the purposes that it has been used. For this reveals the ontological relationship between race and power as an inherent one. In addition, it is also crucial to comprehend that race is first and foremost a lived experience that affects the daily lives of countless people before any of our conceptual analysis. Thus, examining both the theoretical and the empirical level of race is a necessity for us to have any change to move beyond race. And I suggest that we start by asking “Is there anything good about Whiteness?” For an adequate answer to this question requires an understanding of what it is to be White. Which then necessitates a thorough theoretical understanding of the construction, history and workings of race.
  • Etxabe , Julen (2020)
    In a 2006 article, Duncan Kennedy identifies politics as the central dilemma of contemporary legal thought, but affirms that law is non-reducible to politics, which could be read as a partial retraction from the known coda “law is politics.” This essay suggests an interpretation of his refusal to conflate law and politics not in terms of disavowal, or a way of distancing politics from law, but as an attempt to carve out a space from where to think of the relational aspect between law and politics. This becomes necessary due to a current phenomenon which Pierre Schlag calls “dedifferentiation,” where no distinction—and hence no relation—seems to be possible between law and other spheres of life. Opposing that conclusion, this article contends that engendering relations allows us to keep the terms connected in relative motion. The essay then moves to describe four distinct modes of framing the relation between law and politics, which gives rise to very different disciplinary projects: law as politics, dating back to the legal realist movement; law as political science, which finds its current expression in empirical and quantitative research; law as political philosophy, generated by a renewed interest in “the political”; and law as political contingent, growing out of a similar interest but challenging the boundary-setting ambitions of philosophy. While the latter has not yet been adequately translated into law, I suggest as an alternative the work of Jacques Rancière, which declines to grant an aura of invincible ubiquity to any totalizing description, including neoliberalism’s attempt to present itself as a world system.
  • Martin, Jonathon (2007)
    This thesis examines the concept of political liberty (or freedom – the two terms are used as synonyms). In the first chapter I deal with the necessary and sufficient conditions for an agent to be considered free or unfree. This is an opinionated overview that lays the ground for the following sections but which does not reach firm conclusions. The second chapter deals with the value of liberty and asks in what way and to what extent liberty can be considered valuable. I conclude that liberty can be held to be valuable both instrumentally and constitutively but that not all freedoms are therefore equally valuable. In the final chapter I consider the measurement of freedom and conclude that epistemically, it may be possible to measure freedom in an overall sense. In practice, however, it is not possible at the current time nor for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, I argue that a non-evaluative measurement of freedom will lead to very counter-intuitive results. The second and third chapters of this thesis owe a special debt to two recent books on liberty that have, in my view, taken the debate to a higher level. The first is “A Measure of Freedom” by Ian Carter and the second is “The Quality of Freedom” by Matthew Kramer.
  • Kaila, Eero (2007)
    This study examines the content of the term 'neoliberalism' and the possible ways to utilize it as a concept in the context of political philosophy. Neoliberalism is primarily an economic and a political doctrine, which is here presumed to represent the return of the ideas from the classical liberal period. Since the revival of political philosophy in the 1970's, neoliberalism can be seen to have developed philosophical content. However, any specific structure or a discipline, to which any writer would declare to belong to, has not formed yet. This has lead several commentators, such as Eerik Lagerspetz and Anna-Maria Blomgren, to recommend against using the concept as the field of study is still too fragmented. The process of study will advance following the structure of systematic analysis. Additionally some influences are taken from the hermeneutic tradition. The hermeneutic circle will provide an opportunity to examine a large subject matter with a relatively small amount of preliminary research. On a chapter-to-chapter basis the study will concentrate on an accurate systematic analysis of the concept. After an initial sketch of the concept is made, some philosophically inclined writers who are considered neoliberal are examined. In this case Friedrich August von Hayek, Robert Nozick and James M. Buchanan are presented. Essential concepts are selected from the most important political-philosophical texts of these writers. These concepts are then compared with each other in the systematic section. The following concepts are discussed here: the individual, liberty, rights, social justice and the state. The analysis at the end of this study will compile, on the grounds of the examined concepts and their relations with each other, two dominant varieties (deontological and consequentialist) of neoliberalism. The internal problems of these varieties and the similarity with the term 'libertarianism', which is already recognized in the discourse of political philosophy, lead to a concurring recommendation with the previous commentaries: the application of the concept 'neoliberalism' is not recommended due to poor quality of the theories within the field of study. The possibility to use 'neoliberalism' as an intermediatory category between liberalism and libertarianism is, however, not overruled. The prerequisite for this is that new forms of contemporary, extreme liberalism would be created, with preferably more argumentative force than the ones examined here. In the end, the philosophical examination of neoliberalism is deemed fruitful in the sense that the concept is located between the disciplines of economics and political philosophy. This implies the possible result of discovering new tools for the analysis of philosophical foundations of economic theory.
  • Varava, Margarita (Helsingin yliopisto, 2018)
    This thesis critically engages with various approaches to political inclusion. I show that certain difficulties in their perspectives on language as a candidate for conveying representation and recognition of new agents in public space can be observed. I focus on the moral limitations of these approaches, particularly the issue of articulating identities as a form of suppression; confining the political performance of individuals to frames of political identities; the problematic engagement of excluded agents in existing discourses that are embedded in particular power structures; and normative justification of moral permissibility concerning political agendas of new political agents. In the first chapter, I analyze the normative foundations of inclusion in the theories of Luce Irigaray (‘I-you’-identities), Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau (‘we-them’-identities), as well as the cosmopolitan political project (‘we’-identities) in detail. In the second chapter, I critically investigate and analyze strategies of inclusion by means of articulation in these approaches. Finally, the third chapter outlines problematic moral implications of these approaches in order to close a gap within the current scientific debate on this topic and provide foundations of possible future research. Questions addressed there include: Why favor inclusion at all? Which mechanisms of inclusion would be better than the existing ones? Should inclusion aspire to allow for differences and inclusion on terms that are insensitive to differences?
  • Lehmijoki, Lauri (2009)
    The aim of this study is to contemplate the idea of a political theory that has a strong foundation both in metaphysics and science. In this study, I call such a theory a balanced political theory. With the help of the concept of balanced political theory, this study attempts to provide a framework for assessing political theories, such as political parties' programmes and political ideologies. For example, if a party programme contains abstract notions like well-being, but it does not define the ways in which well-being can be observed, tested and falsified, it can be called unbalanced in the sense that it is strongly metaphysical but lacks foundation in science. With metaphysical notions I refer to subjective and normative statements that cannot be verified nor falsified with objective observations (hence the name 'beyond physics'). With science, I mainly refer to attempts to verify or falsify a statement with methods that are agreed by most scholars and with observations. I use dialectic as the main method of argumentation. I read Oswald Spengler's Der Untergang des Abendlandes as a thesis for metaphysical political theory. I also argue that Karl Popper's The Open Society and Its Enemies, as well as his ideas present in the book Conjectures and Refutations can be seen as the anti-thesis for metaphysical political theories. Popper's theories can be read as scientifically oriented theories, in which metaphysics is largely neglected. Finally, I suggest that Robert Oppenheimer's political thought in The Open Mind and in the Science and the Common Understanding can be interpreted as a synthesis of Spengler's and Popper's theories. Oppenheimer's political thought emphasised both the scientific principles, such as modesty and the acknowledgment of uncertainty, and metaphysics. The result of this study is the framework for analysing political theories. The another result is that Robert Oppenheimer's political thought is founded on metaphysical as well as on scientific principles. As a consequence, his political thought provides an example of a balanced political theory.