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A constitutive approach to personality OR my pursuit of anti-foundationalist theory Theoretical Perspectives in International Relations Dr Kelly Staples,

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Presentation on theme: "A constitutive approach to personality OR my pursuit of anti-foundationalist theory Theoretical Perspectives in International Relations Dr Kelly Staples,"— Presentation transcript:

1 A constitutive approach to personality OR my pursuit of anti-foundationalist theory Theoretical Perspectives in International Relations Dr Kelly Staples, University of Leicester

2 Background interests Cosmopolitan/communitarian debate Relationship between sovereignty, rights, and exclusion Application of theory to real-world complexity/uncertainty Stateless persons and refugees

3 Key questions Is there an uncontroversial and yet meaningful way to conceive of cosmopolitan rights? How is the relationship between the individual and the world mediated by norms and politics?

4 Key influences Hannah Arendt [Contemporary Hegelian recognition theory (and recent work on misrecognition)] Mervyn Frost’s constitutive theory Molly Cochran’s critical reading of Frost

5 Arendt Relationship between statelessness, sovereignty and human rights Importance of specific relationships, qualities and ‘a place in the world’ to individual status Hollowness of guarantees of status based on ‘the abstract nakedness of being human’ ◦ (Arendt 1973: 300) ‘Only with a completely organized humanity could the loss of home and political status become identical with expulsion from humanity altogether’ ◦ (Arendt 1973: 297)

6 Criticisms of Arendt Constructs an ‘ontological trap’ ◦ (Rancière 2004: 302) Depoliticises rightlessness Assumes a binary in/out structure to inclusion Cedes too much power to the state

7 Frost ‘Ethical constructivism’ ◦ (1996: 114) Engagement with ‘settled’ norms and shared understandings of practices ◦ (1996: 77-8) Construction of guiding ‘background theory’ (the constitutive theory of individuality) ◦ (1996: 127) Focus on ‘the system of mutual recognition within which individuality comes to be of value’ ◦ (1996: 141)

8 Criticisms of Frost Aims too high (in search of ‘proper’ understanding) Allows existing institutions to over- determine his ethical claims Insufficiently critical of existing recognition practices, including the society of sovereign states

9 Cochran quasi-foundationalism Outlines quasi-foundationalism some Communication (and hence theorising) requires some basis Weak Weak foundations, and their epistemological implications should be acknowledged The ‘contingent end of the spectrum of ways of defending ethical claims’ ◦ (Cochran 1999: 167)

10 Theoretical features Fallibility Fallibility – acknowledgement of role of values, contingency and fallibility ◦ Sidestepping of search for ‘universalist epistemological legitimacy’ (Jabri and Chan 2013: 107; Rorty) flexibility Implies flexibility Communicability Communicability - commitment to the avoidance of controversial values Interpretation Interpretation - critical engagement with international meanings, identified through research into aspects of IR

11 Constructivism Constructivism Critical post-positivism Critical post-positivism Quasi-foundationalism Quasi-foundationalism Interpretivism Interpretivism

12 Theoretical application Rights of stateless persons ◦ Relationship between nationality, state system, international society and rights ◦ Statelessness as stripping ‘the citizen of his status in the national and international political community’ ◦ Paradox that rights to nationality/recognition are provided through exercise of state sovereignty ◦ Exploration of difficulties of recognising people as persons in their own right ◦ (Staples 2012)

13 Recognition of statelessness and Rejection of Arendt/Agamben pessimism (power versus bare life) and of contentious claims about rights Engagement with practical and normative dimensions of status and recognition

14 Acknowledgement of non-sovereign relations of recognition Towards tentative claims about the needs of strangers, and our connections to them

15 Weak Weak foundations Practice based (including meanings) ◦ State interest in exclusion and in regulation of persons’ inter-state movement ◦ Enduring practice of close citizen-state relations  Which combine to constitute non-recognition of statelessness, and frequent forced migrations of stateless persons ◦ Important inter-state practices of recognition (with individual effects)

16 Contingent claims ‘More-or-less universal implications of plurality’ ◦ Linked to widespread assumption that ‘everyone has been assigned an advocate/protector’ (Goodin 2008: 275) Specific vulnerabilities associated with plurality and its general value Preliminary contours of recognition needs of stateless persons Preliminary account of ethical limits of current practice

17 I argue that the recognised state duty ‘of a State to grant its nationals a right of residence and to receive them back in its territory’ (Hudson 1953: 10) is connected in various ways today to recognition of individual rights nor Neither individual rights nor state rights as independent Practical tension can be mitigated by closer attention to meanings and connections constitutive of state and individual rights today

18 Theoretical scope ‘a realistic goal for theory is to explore the roles that existing institutions and norms seem to play in enhancing recognition and to better understand the limits of those functions so that the injuries which result might be mitigated’. ◦ (Staples 2012)

19 Theoretical limits reconciling No possibility of finally reconciling human rights and sovereignty (or any other contradictory norms or practices) No way to rationalise practices, nor to advance ‘proper’ understanding of IR

20 References Arendt, H. (1973) Origins of Totalitarianism, 5th edition, New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Cochran, M. (1999) Normative Theory in International Relations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Frost, M. (1996) Ethics in International Relations: A Constitutive Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goodin, R. (2008) ‘What is so special about our fellow countrymen?’, in Thom Brooks (ed.), The Global Justice Reader, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 263–83.

21 Jabri, V. and S. Chan (2013) ‘The Ontologist Always Rings Twice: Two More Stories about Structure and Agency in reply to Hollis and Smith’, Review of International Studies 22: 1, 107-10. Rancière, J. (2004) ‘Who is the subject of the rights of man?’, The South Atlantic Quarterly, 103: 2/3, 297–310. Rorty, R. (1998), ‘Human rights, rationality, and sentimentality’, in Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers Volume 3, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 167–85. Staples, K. (2012) Re-theorising Statelessness: A Background Theory of Membership in World Politics, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

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