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Does Democratic Theory Need Epistemic Standards?

Grounds for a Purely Procedural Defense of Majority Rule

Carlo Invernizzi-Accetti

This article proposes a critical discussion of an increasingly influential strand of contemporary democratic theory that attempts to justify majoritarian institutions on the grounds that they are the most adequate “epistemic” means for discovering and implementing an objective standard of normative truth. The analysis is divided in two parts. In the first I show that the appeal to such epistemic standards is unnecessary because it is possible to justify majority rule on the “purely procedural” grounds that it is the best way of instantiating the values of freedom (as consent) and equality (as impartiality). In the second part I suggest that the appeal to epistemic standards is also undesirable because it conflicts with three key democratic values: autonomy (as self-government), inclusion (as lack of discrimination in terms of political competence), and pluralism (as fair representation of conflicting interests within the political process).

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Many a Standard at a Time

The Ottomans' Leverage with Imperial Studies

Marc Aymes

This article aims to explore the consequences of including Ottoman studies in the larger field of imperial studies. It strives to combine a close reading of the Ottoman imperial epithets with considerations of how the Ottomans may contribute to theorizing empire as a model. In particular, the article engages in a discussion of whether the "sublime sultanate" developed into a colonial pattern of empire over its final century of existence. As it turns out, the Ottoman practice of administration did not come down to a simulacrum of European colonialism; the article points instead to a semiotics of empire that took its cue from a multidimensional logic of governmentality. Accordingly, archival idiosyncrasies are taken to imply the contrary of an Ottoman exceptionalism. They serve rather to highlight that concepts carry with them a vast repertoire of meanings to be activated in practice.

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Making Up for Lost Nature?

A Critical Review of the International Development of Voluntary Biodiversity Offsets

Sarah Benabou

This article analyzes the international development of voluntary biodiversity offsets, a conservation instrument that permits developers to pursue their activities if conservation actions are undertaken elsewhere to compensate for the environmental impacts of their projects. Largely undertaken by extractive industries that operate in the global South where no offsetting regulations exist, this tool is currently attracting growing interest from policy makers, private companies, financial institutions, and conservation experts. Building upon the concept of market framing developed by Callon (1998), I explore in what contexts and through what processes this idea has gathered momentum, as well as the disturbing gap between the way it has been framed and its practical implementation. It is suggested that once immersed in the outside world, the market framing of offsets appears as a fragile result dependent upon substantial investments, which casts serious doubts about offsets' ability to reduce biodiversity loss on technical, governance, and social grounds.

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Beverly Crawford Ames and Armon Rezai

Kindleberger’s theory of hegemonic stability states that fixed exchange rate regimes require a leader that will provide it with disproportionate resources to ensure stability. Applying his theory to European monetary cooperation, we argue that, like the tools of Goethe’s “Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” European Monetary Union was constructed as a “self-regulating system,” and it threatens to run amok without a hegemonic leader. Germany has exercised “soft hegemony” in Europe, providing the European Union with disproportionate resources to stabilize the single market. It has the capability to be the Eurozone’s leader. But, by 2017, blinded by its ordoliberal ideology, i t refused to do so, instead placing the burden of cooperation on the weak. If Germany continues to refuse to play the role of the hegemonic leader, European Monetary Union faces collapse.

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Betsy Bowman and Bob Stone

The question whether, in the interim, the "socialist morality" allows adequate restraint on revolutionary action, cannot fairly be answered in abstraction from history, in this case our epoch. We submit that the group of projects called corporate "globalization" - imposing free trade, privatization, and dominance of transnational corporations - shapes that epoch. These projects are associated with polarization of wealth, deepening poverty, and an alarming new global U.S. military domination. Using 9/11 as pretext for a "war on terror," this domination backs corporate globalization. If Nazi occupation of France and French occupation of Algeria made Sartre and Beauvoir assign moral primacy to overcoming oppressive systems, then U.S. global occupation should occasion rebirth of that commitment. Parallels among the three occupations are striking. France's turning of colonial and metropolitan working classes against each other is echoed by globalization's pitting of (e.g.) Chinese against Mexican workers in a race to lower wages to get investment. Seducing first-world workers with racial superiority and cheap imports from near-slavery producers once again conceals their thralldom to their own bosses. Nazi and French use of overwhelming force and even torture are re-cycled by the U.S. and its agents, again to hide the vulnerability of their small forces amidst their enemies.

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Magnus Boström, Åsa Casula Vifell, Mikael Klintman, Linda Soneryd, Kristina Tamm Hallström and Renita Thedvall

The synergies and trade-offs between the various dimensions of sustainable development are attracting a rising scholarly attention. Departing from the scholarly debate, this article focuses on internal relationships within social sustainability. Our key claim is that it is difficult to strengthen substantive social sustainability goals unless there are key elements of social sustainability contained in the very procedures intended to work toward sustainability. Our analysis, informed by an organizing perspective, is based on a set of case studies on multi-stakeholder transnational sustainability projects (sustainability standards). This article explores six challenges related to the achievement of such procedures that can facilitate substantive social sustainability. Three of these concern the formulation of standards and policies, and three the implementation of standards and policies. To achieve substantive social sustainability procedures must be set in motion with abilities to take hold of people's concerns, frames, resources, as well as existing relevant institutions and infrastructures.

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Barbara Flueckiger

Although stereoscopic cinema was invented very early in the history of film, it did not become the standard for cinematic representations. With the latest digital wave of stereoscopic 3D cinema many shortcomings of earlier technologies have been eliminated, but debate remains about the aesthetic principles of stereoscopy. This article explores and evaluates basic approaches to aesthetic design in stereoscopic films.

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The Editors

This is the second issue of Aspasia. The inaugural volume, focussing on Central, Eastern and Southeastern European feminisms, was published in 2007. As editors, we are proud of the breath and richness of the essays and Forum contributions in that first issue. We hope this volume lives up to the standard of excellence set by the premier volume.

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Jane Haynes

Psychotherapy – under Reshetnikov's influence – has already become a profitable and desirable profession with accredited qualifications that reflect European standards. Its skilled practitioners are still busy competing with national predilections for occult alternatives that state registered quacksalvers continue to peddle but in St. Petersburg it is turning into the preferred treatment for alienated and impoverished professionals and the 'New Russians' alike.

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'In The Midst of Many Peoples'

Some Nineteenth-Century Jewish Composers and Their Jewishness

David Conway

At the start of the nineteenth century there were virtually no Jewish professionals in music and the standard of music in Jewish synagogues was generally appalling. Yet by the end of the same century throughout Europe Jews held leading positions as conductors, soloists, producers, music publishers and patrons of music; a Jew was the most successful opera composer of the century, and the Jews were commonly held, what would have seemed nonsensical a hundred years earlier, to be a ‘musical people’.