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Neoliberalism, Hedonism and the Dying Public

Reclaiming Political Agency through the Exercise of Courage

Grant M. Sharratt and Erik Wisniewski

Abstract

While the pursuit of hedonism is legitimated by neoliberal governmentality, its disciplining and isolating forces prevent individuals from being fulfilled by their pursuit of pleasure. Concomitantly, this hedonism (pursuing pleasure to avoid pain) causes individuals to withdraw from public political life. In this article we argue that, instead of attempting to pursue pleasure through the experience of material comfort, individuals ought to orient themselves towards membership in substantive political associations. Further, we argue that it is through such membership that one can attain genuine fulfilment, while simultaneously reclaiming agency, both on individual and collective terms. Though individuals must be willing to take on the risk of pain, their membership in substantive political associations provides genuine fulfilment, while also allowing for the construction of new worlds through political action.

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Professor Anna Stilz and Interviewed by Dr Christine Hobden

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Book Reviews

Hegelianisms without Metaphysics?

David James, Bahareh Ebne Alian, and Jean Terrier

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Book Roundtable

Discussion text: Chin, C. 2018. The Practice of Political Theory: Rorty and Continental Thought.

Lasse Thomassen, Joe Hoover, David Owen, Paul Patton, and Clayton Chin

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Olusegun Steven Samuel and Ademola Kazeem Fayemi

Abstract

This article is a critique of Thaddeus Metz's modal relational approach to moral status in African ethics (AE). According to moral relationalism (MR), a being has moral status if it exhibits the capacity for communal relationship as either a subject or an object. While Metz defends a prima facie plausibility of MR as an African account of moral status, this article provides a fresh perspective to the debate on moral status in environmental and ethical discourse. It raises two objections against MR: (1) the capability criterion inherent in MR is not only exogenous to African thought but also undermines the viability of MR; and (2) MR cannot account for the standing of species populations. Both objections have severe implications for biodiversity conservation efforts in Africa and beyond.

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Vittorio Bufacchi

Abstract

The principle of non-maleficence, primum non nocere, has deep roots in the history of moral philosophy, being endorsed by John Stuart Mill, W. D. Ross, H. L. A. Hart, Karl Popper and Bernard Gert. And yet, this principle is virtually absent from current debates on social justice. This article suggests that non-maleficence is more than a moral principle; it is also a principle of social justice. Part I looks at the origins of non-maleficence as a principle of ethics, and medical ethics in particular. Part II introduces the idea of non-maleficence as a principle of social justice. Parts III and IV define the principle of justice as non-maleficence in terms of its scope and coherence, while Part V argues that the motivation of not doing harm makes this principle an alternative to two well-established paradigms in the literature on social justice: justice as mutual advantage (David Gauthier) and justice as impartiality (Brian Barry).

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Learning to Judge Politics

Professor John Dunn (Interviewed by Professor Lawrence Hamilton)

John Dunn and Lawrence Hamilton

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Neither Shadow nor Spectre

Populism as the Ideological Embodiment of the Democratic Paradox

Anthony Lawrence Borja

Abstract

The beating heart of democratic politics is a set of paradoxes revolving around the issues of popular identity and sovereignty. Populist ideology appeals to the sovereign people, consequently engaging the democratic paradox in a manner akin to either moving an immoveable object or catching something in constant flux. Marginal consideration has been given by scholars to populism's relationship with the democratic paradox, with current notions of the former seeing it more as a result of the latter. Thus, by recasting the democratic paradox as a question and analysing its relationship with populist ideology, this article seeks to clarify the supposedly ambiguous relationship between populism and democracy. In analysing the transformative processes within populism by using early Peronism and Italian Fascism as case studies, it argues that as the ideological embodiment of the democratic paradox populist ideology preserves and expresses the paradox in the public sphere.

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Book Reviews

On Machiavelli as Plebeian Theorist

Marc Stears, Jérémie Barthas, and Adam Woodhouse

Reading Machiavelli: Scandalous Books, Suspects Engagements, and the Virtue of Populist Politics, by John McCormick. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018. 288 pp.

Machiavelli in Tumult. The Discourses on Livy and the Origins of Political Conflictualism, by Gabriele Pedullà. Translated by Patricia Gaborik and Richard Nybakken. Revised and updated by the author. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018. xix + 284 pp.

Machiavelli and the Orders of Violence, by Yves Winter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018. 230 pp.

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Giuseppe Ballacci

In the literature there are two well-established but opposite readings of Arendt: as an agonistic theorist and as a deliberative one. In between these two positions a smaller number of scholars have argued that in Arendt these two dimensions can to a large extent be reconciled. This paper follows this third path but tries to bring it one step further. In particular, it defends the idea that those scholars who have proposed this third reading of Arendt have fallen short of revealing the degree to which deliberation and agonism are, for her, interwoven. Through an original reading of Arendt’s views on judgment, persuasion, distinction and Eichmann’s banality, the paper clarifies why, for her, agonism and deliberation are not only compatible but actually mutually dependent. In other words, it clarifies why she believes that there can be no deliberation without agonism and no agonism without deliberation.