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Ideas of Andrew Shorten, by Text

[Irish, fl. 2016, At the Unviersity of Limerick, Ireland.]

2016 Contemporary Political Theory
01 p.8 Liberal equality concerns rights, and liberal freedom concerns choice of ends
     Full Idea: A liberal society treats people as equals by equipping them with the same set of rights, and it respects their freedom by allowing them to choose their own freely chosen ends.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 01)
     A reaction: Equality of rights is fairly standard in any modern society (at least in principle). Freedom of ends is trickier. You can dismiss someone sleeping in the gutter as living a life that resulted from their choices. How many people have clear goals in life?
01 p.8 Liberalism should not make assumptions such as the value of choosing your own life plan
     Full Idea: Communitarians say that liberalism could only justified by appealing to controversial assumptions that are not universally shared, such as the significance of choosing one's own plan of life.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 01)
     A reaction: In the past, at least, huge numbers of people have been perfectly happy living a life designed for them by their parents. It is not much consolation for a disastrous life that at least you planned it yourself. Liberal values are not self-evident.
01 p.8 Liberals treat individuals as mutual strangers, rather than as social beings
     Full Idea: Communitarians say that liberalism treats individuals as strangers to one another, and underestimates the extent to which individuals are 'constituted' by their societies and social memberships.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 01)
     A reaction: On the other hand you can have 'too much community'. Surely the test for any political system is the quality of lives led by individual citizens? There can never be a wonderful community full of miserable citizens.
02 p.19 Liberal citizens have a moral requirement to respect freedom and equality
     Full Idea: The liberal theory of political community contains a moral thesis which says that members should share a moral concern for one another as free and equal citizens. …Citizens are not required to have much else in common with one another.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 02)
     A reaction: A key thought. Liberal hearts swell with pride at the first half, but anti-liberals are interested in the second bit. If my neighbour lives in miserable poverty, should I only ask whether they are 'equal and free'? Respect everything!
02 p.19 Constitutional Patriotism unites around political values (rather than national identity)
     Full Idea: 'Constitutional patriots' favour a 'post-national' form of political identity in which members share common political values, but not necessarily a common national identity.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 02)
     A reaction: Interesting. Not sure if you can keep political values distinct from community values. In theory it is an approach designed for cultural pluralism. But if the political values are liberal that implies cultural freedoms for (e.g.) women.
02 p.26 Liberal Nationalism says welfare states and democracy needed a shared sense of nationality
     Full Idea: The Liberal Nationalist argument is that if we want to have welfare states or vibrant democracies, then we will need the kind of solidarity that shared nationality fosters. …Unwelcome democratic decisions are more acceptable when made by co-nationals.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 02)
     A reaction: We've just experienced this with Brexit (2016), where perfectly sensible decisions were being made in Brussels, but the popular press whipped up hostility because the British had a restricted role in the decisions. Prefer our idiots to their sages.
02 p.26 Liberal Nationalism encourages the promotion of nationalistic values
     Full Idea: 'Liberal nationalists' say liberalism is compatible with promoting nationality, by teaching national history and literature and supporting its language. Compatriot priority adds that the needs of compatriots can override those of foreigners.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 02)
     A reaction: [compressed] As a teacher of literature I always preferred to teach the literature of my own country, but without considering the reasons for it. But it was a combination of pride in my people's achievements, and a desire to strengthen social bonds.
02 p.28 Liberal Nationalism is more communitarian, and Constitutional Patriotism more cosmopolitan
     Full Idea: While Liberal Nationalists push liberalism in a particularist and communitarian direction, Constitutional Patriots emphasise its universalistic and cosmopolitan aspects.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 02)
     A reaction: So many attractive qualities to choose from! A tolerant community ought to be cosmopolitan. Being universalistic should not entail a neglect of the particular. Etc.
03 p.47 Religious toleration has been institutionalised by the separation of church and state
     Full Idea: One historically influential solution to the discord unleashed by the fact of religious diversity was to institutionalise the principle of toleration by separating church and state.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 03)
     A reaction: In 2018 Britain we still have an established religion (Anglicanism - Episcopalianism in the US), but toleration has arrived with the decline of religious belief. It must still be tough for Muslims, Jews etc to see a different religion as the official one.
04 p.76 Representative should be either obedient, or sensible, or typical
     Full Idea: Mandate Representation says they are delegates who should not deviate from instructions; Trustee says they use their discretion and judgement; Descriptive says they share group characteristics.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 04)
     A reaction: [compressed] There is also being a representative because you have an audience (such as celebrity campains). The second type was famously defended by Edmund Burke. The third implies being the same colour, or gender, or religion.
04 p.84 There is 'mirror representation' when the institution statistically reflects the population
     Full Idea: The general theory of 'mirror representation' says that a representative body or institution should be a statistically accurate sample of the wider society it represents.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 04)
     A reaction: How fine-grained should this be in accuracy. Should every small minority have at least one rep? Can't reps be trusted to speak for people a bit different from themselves? Maybe not! He quotes Mirabeau in support of this idea.
04 Box 4.1 p.81 In a changed situation a Mandated Representative can't keep promises and fight for constituents
     Full Idea: An important tension in Mandate Representation seemingly requires politicians to both uphold their electoral promises and promote the interests of their constituents. These can conflict, with changed circumstances or information.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 04 Box 4.1)
     A reaction: So be careful what you promise, and don't take on a party loyalty that conflicts with your constituents' interests. Easy.
05 p.109 Democracy is a method of selection, or it involves participation, or it concerns public discussion
     Full Idea: Competitive democrats believe that democracy is simply a method for selecting political leaders …Participatory democrats associate the democratic ideal with living in a participatory society …Deliberative democrats identify public reasoning as key.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 05)
     A reaction: Personally I would favour public discussion, but that is the last thing leaders want, especially if they are not very knowledgeable or clever.
05 p.111 Some say democracy is intrinsically valuable, others that it delivers good outcomes
     Full Idea: Some theorist think that democracy is intrinsically valuable, but others believe that it is valuable because it delivers good outcomes.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 05)
     A reaction: It is hard to see how the majority having a dictatorship over the minority could be an intrinsic good. If we start with respect as the supreme social virtue, then participation and public discussion might be intrinsic goods.
06 p.167 Maybe the rational autonomous liberal individual is merely the result of domination
     Full Idea: On a radical reading of Foucault, the very ideal of a rational, autonomous moral agent that lies at the heart of liberal governmentality is nothing more than the effect of a particular form of domination.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 06)
     A reaction: [Apologies for the word 'governmentality'; I'm just the messenger] Presumably Foucault's philosophy is also the result of domination, so it is hard to know where to start. The status of rationality is the central issue.
08 p.218 There are eight different ways in which groups of people can be oppressed
     Full Idea: Groups can be oppressed in seven different ways: by violence, marginalisation, powerlessness, cultural domination, exploitation, stigmatisation, neglect of interests, and lack of egalitarian ethos.
     From: report of Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 08) by PG - Db (ideas)
     A reaction: [my summary of Shorten's summary] These headings seem to overlap somewhat. It strengthens my growing view that if one builds a political philosophy around the supreme virtue of respect, then all of these modes of oppression are undermined.
09 p.264 Utilitarians conflate acts and omissions; causing to drown and failing to save are the same
     Full Idea: Most uitlitarians do not distinguish between acts and omissions, and see no morally relevant difference between walking past a drowning child and pushing a child into a pond.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 09)
     A reaction: He cites Peter Singer as an instance. The notorious Trolley Problem focuses on such issues. Michael Sandel in 'Justice' is good on that. If motive and intention matter, the two cases could be very different. Too timid to push, but also too timid to help?