Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Reducing domination in global politics
by Buckinx, Barbara C. J., Ph.D., Princeton University, 2010, 225; 3410989
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation articulates an approach to global governance that has at its center the neo-republican conception of freedom as non-domination. It constitutes an alternative to the prevailing—liberal-political and cosmopolitan democratic—approaches to global governance, which focus on the benefits of global cooperation among independent peoples in accordance with liberal principles, or on the application of democratic ideals and institutions beyond the state, respectively. I sympathize with the former approach’s ascription of a normative role in global governance to the state, and I agree with the latter that we ought to view questions of political governance through a global lens. Nevertheless, I argue that neither approach fully captures what is at stake in global governance. In particular, they fail to grasp the ways in which the global order renders individuals vulnerable to domination. Global actors sometimes wield such extensive power over us that our encounters with them render us incapable of asserting control over our own choices, and I am concerned with the unrestrained exercise or potential exercise of that power. As a result, I propose that we adopt non-domination as a global political ideal. I then consider which actors ought to undertake the task of reducing the vulnerability of individuals to domination, and the method by which they ought to do so. I distinguish between the public nature of global institutions and the private character of states, corporations, and non-governmental organizations, and argue that only the former ought to be concerned with the problem of global domination. I also contend that they ought to do so incrementally, rather than by pursuing ideal-theoretic institutional design. In addition to providing an alternative to the existing liberal and cosmopolitan-democratic approaches to global governance, the dissertation also hopes to contribute to the burgeoning literature on neo-republicanism. It faults contemporary civic republicans for being insufficiently concerned with the oppression of individuals in non-republican states, and it formulates a global republican approach that takes the freedom of such individuals seriously.

Chapters One and Two offer a diagnosis of the problem and a description of the values that are central to its resolution, while Chapters Three and Four focus on the global actors that are best suited to bringing about the necessary global change, as well as the method by which this change should be brought about. Chapter One argues that current research in normative global governance has paid insufficient attention to the problem of domination in global politics. Chapter Two proposes freedom as non-domination as a candidate for a global political ideal, and it explains how this ideal can address many of the values that liberals and cosmopolitan democrats care about within it. Chapter Three critiques the conflation of public and private global actors in the accounts of some of the existing scholarship. Instead, it argues that this distinction is an important one, because it indicates which actors should be relied upon to promote freedom as non-domination—and which should not. Chapter Four rejects the prevalent teleological, ideal-theoretic approach to global institutional design, and argues that we should instead attempt to change the constitution and policy orientation of global public actors incrementally.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Beitz, Charles R.
School: Princeton University
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-A 71/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Philosophy, Political science
Keywords: Domination, Global governance, Global institutional design, Republicanism
Publication Number: 3410989
ISBN: 9781124051130
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