A Common Human Ground: Universality and Particularity in a Multicultural World

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The drive for power had to be contained most fundamentally in the souls of individuals but also through external restraints, including constitutional checks. The Constitution continues to enjoy great respect, especially in ceremonial contexts, but today is a norm for political conduct more in theory than in practice. Many American leaders speak often about virtue and about America having a related moral mission in the world, but their conception of virtue does not, like the traditional conception, induce moderation and a sense of limits.

On the contrary, it manifests and feeds a strong will to power and a sense of limitless possibilities. They propound an outlook far different from the moral-spiritual and political heritage that gave shape to the Constitution. Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF. Skip to main content. Advertisement Hide. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access. The emergence, ideas, leading figures, influence, and historical context of the ideology of American empire are explored in depth in Claes G. Google Scholar. On the connection between this ideology and the militarization of U. President George W. For a discussion of the distinction between the things of God and the things of Caesar, see Claes G.

George W.


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Carey and James V. A classical example of this conservative attitude is Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France , ed. Pocock Indianapolis: Hackett, In other words, it implies engaging in some types of external action and not others Browning , While we understand all exceptionalist discourses as a form of identity construction, not all identity construction is necessarily exceptionalist, nor do we find exceptionalist elements in every country's foreign policy discourse see below.

Although certain kinds of exceptionalism may be unique to individual states in historical periods in time, exceptionalism as foreign policy discourse is not. Much to the contrary, as our cases illustrate, their family resemblance demands comparisons throughout history and across cases and world regions.

Exceptionalist discourse expresses a peculiar link between a state's foreign policy and its self-understanding as a unique society or civilization that is related to some form of higher order revelation or spiritual or otherworldly character. This link is peculiar because it establishes uniqueness as a foundation for, first, a conviction of moral superiority over virtually every other society, based on which the self-ascribed exceptionalist state pursues an allegedly universal common good in its foreign policy conduct.

Second, exceptionalism based on uniqueness implies the belief in an exceptional state's disposition as impossible to be replicated by others.


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In this understanding, the impossibility of replicating the exceptional state makes the realization of these values like peace, democracy, individual rights contingent upon the exceptional state's success in foreign policy. In other words, the universal global good is dependent on the unique and particular history of the exceptionalist state. Whereas exceptionalism refers to universalism, nationalism tends to be particularistic and exclusive in nature. By contrast, exceptionalist discourses refer to a morality that all humankind should ideally adhere to. Neither are all those with claims to a foreign policy guided by supposedly universal moral norms.

This very concept, as put forward by Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans in the early s, implies that all states should and are—in principle—capable of fulfilling their moral duties as global citizens.

Ryn, Claes G. [WorldCat Identities]

Such duties typically include the defense of human rights, participation in peacekeeping missions, and generally the contribution to the solution of collective action problems globally. Special responsibilities for certain states may arise from certain capabilities or resources; yet, responsibilities in principle are not based on a distinctive status or unique domestic qualities.

In fact, the terminology of citizenship incorporates the belief that moral duties and responsibilities are both intelligible and applicable to all members of international society. The result was an exercise in public diplomacy as much as in actual foreign policy. This contrasts with our notion of exceptionalism, which, although routinely serving as a legitimating device for specific foreign policies, is hardly ever directed primarily at foreign audiences McCrisken , 4.

Thus, exceptionalism as foreign policy discourse goes beyond what former US president Barack Obama insinuated in , that is, the banal claim for uniqueness virtually every country can legitimately make see also Hughes , This is an issue dealt with primarily in historical research focusing on US exceptionalism as for instance Lepgold and McKeown ; Lipset ; Shafer ; Wang and often brought forward in political commentaries or opinion pieces e.

When it comes to war powers, conservatives are at odds with the Framers of the Constitution

As such, exceptionalist discourses come in many forms and nuances that can be more or less overt and more or less explicit. For instance, in many cases the content of a speech or certain policies flow out of an exceptionalist self-understanding, without explicitly or even consciously being framed as exceptionalism. Finally, the claimed insights into a universally valid morality as the exclusive domain of a particular exceptionalist state or civilization feed into a conviction of being exempt from those norms, rules, and conventions governing the international relations of all other—unexceptional—states.

Here, our conceptualization of exceptionalism differs from those arguing that exceptionalism is necessarily exemptionalist, meaning the attitude that the exceptionalist country is not bound by multilateral regimes and agreements to the same extent as other states are or that international treaties should apply to all states except for the exceptionalist state Ignatieff , 4—6; Bradford and Posner , 7. Instead, we take exemptionalism as only one of several potential characteristics. Thereby we may risk our framework to be understood as an attempt in diluting an established concept.

Far from employing a widely accepted definition of exceptionalism, the existing literature is ambiguous about whether exceptionalism and exemptionalism necessarily go hand in hand, or whether the latter is just a possible trait of the former e.

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One of our motivations behind writing this article is precisely that one needs to look beyond American exceptionalism to be able to say something about exceptionalism per se. Yet, as illustrated below, this exceptionalist characteristic—or epistemic exemptionalism—does not necessarily translate into the renunciation of international rules and norms. In fact, the opposite may be true. If we simply equated exceptionalism with exemptionalism, we would lose sight of exceptionalism as one amongst several potential motivations behind exemptionalism in international law Bradford and Posner To probe the argument, what would happen to our nonexemptionalist discourses as in our cases of Turkey and India if we did not count them as truly exceptionalist?

Besides the fact that discourses in those countries have explicitly and throughout history articulated their foreign policy as exceptionalist themselves, discarding them as nonexceptionalist, in our view, would be both nonproductive and problematic: Nonproductive, as we might then overlook the potential of these nonexemptionalist foreign policy discourses to eventually become exemptionalist.

By contrast, our typology allows us to consider and learn more about shifts in variants of exceptionalism over time. Again, in order to challenge this conventional wisdom, one needs to move beyond a US and Western -centric concept of exceptionalism. The unsystematic incorporation of complex historical events is one of the pitfalls in the development of international theory from empirical research.

Here, the ideal type methodology is particularly helpful as it reduces complexity of the empirical by accentuating only certain characteristic traits and by bringing together a number of individual events in order to expand its applicability Plagemann , 43; Haugaard , 9. In other words, the ideal type is not a means for generalization of empirical patterns. In contrast to a merely descriptive list of occurrences confined to particular instances, our exceptionalist ideal types both speak to each other and invite their application to more cases than the ones considered in this article.

All exceptionalist states understand themselves as fundamentally different from other states. However, exceptionalist foreign policy discourses are not only about difference from otherwise comparable states but also about superiority in moral terms see also Holsti , As we will illustrate below, articulations of exceptionalism regarded the United States as different from, and morally superior to, feudal Europe; China as different from and superior to its neighbors and the West; and both India and Turkey as different and superior to the Western great powers.

Superiority in each case can take a slightly different connotation; but all forms of superiority involve a moral or spiritual element. This latter element only becomes relevant to foreign policy due to the belief in its universal validity beyond a respective nation's borders. Yet, as our examples show, exceptionalist discourses have surfaced and prevailed even in states relatively inferior in terms of economic progress, welfare, or technological advancement.

A Common Human Ground

The universal becomes visible only through the lens of that one particular political history or spiritual or civilizational heritage. Beyond this common thread of superiority due to a unique insight into a universal morality, exceptionalism may take different forms along two dimensions. First, exceptionalist states may understand their superiority in moral terms as a call for an either missionary or exemplary foreign policy.

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By contrast, a self-understanding as exemplary may entail the same degree of moral superiority without the desire to convert others. Again, in practice reasoning behind this varies from essentially moral arguments against the praxis of conversion, skepticism with regard to the success of missionary engagements, to a general disinterest in the wider uncivilized world. In the Chinese case, throughout history we see variations of and between the exemplary and missionary character.

For instance, contemporary China explicitly distances itself from having a missionary aim toward the outside world and claims to be essentially different from the West in this regard Zhang , Second, exceptionalism may go along with either exemptionalism or nonexemptionalism in global politics.

Nonexemptionalism emphasizes engagement and dialogue over confrontation, and multilateralism over unilateralism, as will be demonstrated by the cases of pre Turkish discourses and of India under Nehru. In both cases, adherence to international law, international cooperation amongst equals, and a conflict-mediating role in international politics were traits attributed to the exceptional character of each country.

checkout.midtrans.com/paginas-para-conocer-gente-larbo.php However, exceptionalism may also result in exemptionalism in dealing with international law and institutions, as defended by US neoconservatives of the s. Based on the above we discern four ideal types of exceptionalist foreign policy discourses see Table 1. Imperialist Exceptionalism is characterized by a missionary foreign policy discourse and exemptionalism in questions of global politics. Imperialist exceptionalism comes with a proselytizing aim to convert and liberate others in the pursuit of an allegedly universal common good that the exceptionalist state stands for and has a particular access to.

This exceptional duty in principle justifies transgressing international law and conventions binding the unexceptional rest. Civilizational Exceptionalism stands for an exemplary foreign policy discourse combined with exemptionalism in questions of global politics. Civilizational exceptionalism, a self-understanding as the world's center and most advanced civilization, comes with a general disregard for the barbaric, underdeveloped or otherwise inferior others.

A Common Human Ground: Universality and Particularity in a Multicultural World by Claes G. Ryn

The aim is to stay out of entanglements with the unexceptional rest while pursuing the perfection of one's own society. Thus, civilizational exceptionalism comprises an isolationist foreign policy. Internationalist Exceptionalism fuses an exemplary foreign policy discourse with a nonexemptionalist approach to international rules and a general appreciation of egalitarian multilateralism as a modus operandi of world politics. The exemplary character is based on specific geographical, historical, or cultural circumstances that make the respective society an example for those situated at a lower level of political development.