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Against Analogy

Why Analogical Arguments in Support of Workplace Democracy Must Necessarily Fail

Roberto Frega

This article asks whether the analogy between state and firm is a promising strategy for promoting workplace democracy and provides a negative answer, explaining why analogical arguments are not a good strategy for justifying workplace democracy. The article contends that the state-firm analogy is misguided for at least three reasons: (1) it is structurally inconclusive, (2) it is based on a category mistake, and (3) it leads us away from the central question we should ask, which is: What would concretely imply, and what is required, in order to democratize the workplace? I begin by offering an interpretation of the state-firm analogy which shows that use of the analogical argument in Dahl’s justification of workplace democracy engenders excessive and unnecessary theoretical costs which bear negatively on his conclusion. I then proceed to examine more recent contributions to the debate and show that supporters and critics of the state-firm analogy alike do not advance our understanding of the analogical argument. In the last part of the article I provide a general theoretical explanation of why arguments based on the state-firm analogy are not good candidates for defending workplace democracy.

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Christian Ewert

Joseph Lacey, Centripetal Democracy: Democratic Legitimacy and Political Identity in Belgium, Switzerland, and the European Union (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 312 pp., ISBN: 9780198796886

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Alexander Weiss

This article sketches a theoretical framework and research agenda for what is labeled as “Comparative Democratic Theory.” It is introduced as an approach to democratic theory which is informed by conceptual and methodological debates from “Comparative Political Theory” (CPT) as well as from insights from a global history of democratic thought. The inclusion of CPT perspectives into democratic theory is motivated by what is diagnosed as a conceptual blindness in Western democratic theory. When following this approach, however, the two extremes of unjustified universalism and normatively problematic relativism both must be avoided. To do so, a mode of sound abstraction is proposed, using the term “constellation,” and a discussion of aims and benefits of Comparative Democratic Theory is presented.

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Heidi Hakkarainen

This article explores the ways the emerging concept of humanism was circulated and defined in early nineteenth-century German-language press. By analyzing a digitized corpus of German-language newspapers and periodicals published between 1808 and 1850, this article looks into the ways the concept of humanism was employed in book reviews, news, political reports, and feuilleton texts. Newspapers and periodicals had a significant role in transmitting the concept of humanism from educational debates into general political language in the 1840s. Furthermore, in an era of growing social problems and political unrest, humanism became increasingly associated with moral sentiments. Accordingly, this article suggests that its new political meanings and emotional underpinnings made humanism culturally contagious, particularly immediately before and during the 1848/49 revolutions.

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Jean-Paul Gagnon

This thirteenth issue of the journal (Volume 7, Issue 1, July 2020) begins with Roberto Frega’s (CNRS) article “Against Analogy: Why Analogical Arguments in Support of Workplace Democracy Must Necessarily Fail”. Frega invites democratic and political theorists committed to the democratization of the workplace to ground themselves in specifics. Instead of working through metaphor and analogy which risks treating workplaces or firms as more or less the same, Frega argues we should first take issue with the question of which workplace or firm and thereafter work through the problem of how it can democratize. Analogies, Frega convincingly shows, simply do not have this productive capacity.

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Eternity and Print

How Medieval Ideas of Time Influenced the Development of Mechanical Reproduction of Texts and Images

Bennett Gilbert

The methods of intellectual history have not yet been applied to studying the invention of technology for printing texts and images ca. 1375–ca. 1450. One of the several conceptual developments in this period reflecting the possibility of mechanical replication is a view of the relationship of eternity to durational time based on Gregory of Nyssa’s philosophy of time and William of Ockham’s. The article considers how changes in these ideas helped enable the conceptual possibilities of the dissemination of ideas. It describes a direct connection of human perceptual knowledge to divine knowledge that enhanced the authority of printed production to transfer and reproduce the true and the good.

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From "De Facto King" to Peasants' Communes

A Struggle for Representation in the Discourse of the Polish Great Emigration, 1832–1846/48

Piotr Kuligowski

This article presents a conceptual history of representation in the political debates of the Polish émigré community in the period 1832–1846/48. As I argue, while the concept was present in the output of all political environments of the Polish Great Emigration, there were more discrepancies than similarities about how to understand it. As a result of debates about what the Polish diaspora in exile actually was and who had the right to represent it, the concept became a part and parcel of political frays. In this way, the right to use it—and consequently to represent the whole Polish community and Polish nation as well—occupied a central place in the evolution of the concept of representation.

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Samuel Moyn and Jean-Paul Gagnon

Samuel Moyn provides insight into how the history of democracy can continue its globalization. There is a growing belief that the currently acceptable fund of ideas has not served the recent past well which is why an expansion, a planetary one, of democracy’s ideas is necessary – especially now as we move deeper into the shadow of declining American/Western imperialism and ideology. Deciding which of democracy’s intellectual traditions to privilege is driven by a mix of forced necessity and choice: finding salient ground for democracy is likely only possible in poisoned traditions including European ones.

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The Limits of Liberal Democracy

Prospects for Democratizing Democracy

Viviana Asara

This critical commentary discusses Stephan Lessenich’s recent work on democracy. It argues that—to understand the structural boundaries of welfare capitalist democracy—we must critically unearth the limits of liberal democracy. This article first maintains that the absence of an economic democratization dimension is an outcome of liberal democracy’s shrinking of the meaning of the political. It next claims that defining democracy in terms of rights does not duly consider how these unfolded historically and recently, nor clarifies their relation with negative freedom. The article then contends that the environmentally destructive dialectic of democracy and the belittlement of reproductive work stem from the constitution of a narrowly defined economic sphere, from which “reproductive activities” are excluded. Finally, the text reflects on what “democratizing democracy” should entail.

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The Modernity of Political Representation

Its Innovative Thrust and Transnational Semantic Transfers during the Sattelzeit (Eighteenth to Nineteenth Centuries)

Samuel Hayat and José María Rosales

Representation is a major and multifaceted concept of modern politics. Through open and regular elections, it shields the democratic character of representative governments, compelling politicians to pursue the interests of their constituencies and become responsive to their demands. But since the concept of representation is so embedded in the day-to-day workings of democratic regimes, it has largely lost significant traces of its history that shed light on its political dawn. The instrumentalization of the concept by representative governments in order to assess their democratic legitimacy obfuscates its seminal ambiguities and the history of conflicts about its meaning and institutional functions.