Making sovereignty safer for human rights

July 29, 2008

I just finished a draft of a paper that begins the task of constructing a moral theory of state sovereignty meant to facilitate the protection of individual human rights. I try to do three things in this paper. First, I try to work out an account of thoroughly non-ideal, or realistic, moral theorizing. I then use this account to evaluate Allen Buchanan’s (2004) theory of recognitional legitimacy, concluding that the view isn’t realistic enough to provide practical political guidance. Finally, I provide a preliminary framework for realistic moral theorizing about state sovereignty, concluding that such theorizing is limited to proposing ways to reform the sovereignty institution that restructure political relationships so that the interests of political leaders become aligned with the protection of individuals’ human rights.

Here’s the paper. If you’ve got the time and/or inclination, any feedback would be much appreciated.

Home Ain’t Where The Heart Is

July 25, 2008

The Initial Claim:
The word ‘home’ does not refer to where the heart is because the referent it takes on is not any location but a direction. It’s not where, but which way.

Some Evidence:
Consider words that refer to some location, even indeterminate ones, such as ‘the bar’. Aino and Cade is talking to Maite. Aino says, “We’re going to the bar.” The natural way for Maite to understand this assertion is that Aino and Cade together are going to some bar, whose location may or may not be determined already. However, it would be very weird for Maite to understand Aino to be saying that Aino is going to the bar and Cade is going to the bar, but they might be going to different bars, i.e. different locations.

In contrast, consider words that refer directionally, like ‘left’. Aino* and Cade* is talking to Maite*. Aino* says, “We’re going left.” The natural way for Maite* to understand this assertion is still that Aino* and Cade* are going in some direction together. But it would be less weird for Maite* to understand Aino* and Cade* are going toward different locations if, say, Aino* is facing west and Cade* is facing east. In that case, it is plausible that what Aino* means is that Aino* will go toward south and Cade* will go toward north.

Finally, consider ‘home’.

Read the rest of this entry »

Self to Self

July 3, 2008

In this post, I reply to my previous post on a new motivation for positing desire-like imagination. The right response to the argument sketched there, I now think, is a combination of `Who cares?’ and `What are you talking about?’. But there’s a functionalist explanation behind the indifferent shrug and the incredulous stare.

Read the rest of this entry »