A Leap into Darkness: Domination and the Normative Structure of International Politics
Smith, Patrick Taylor
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Philosophers have developed sophisticated theories of domestic legitimacy that discuss how a coercive state could be justified to its citizens. Yet, theorizing about global justice is characterized by a pervasive methodological failure: principles of justice are presented without any consideration of whether the current (or any) international regime may legitimately enforce them. The dissertation responds to this failure by, first, presenting and defending a particular account of legitimate political authority founded on the elimination of domination through the provision of a lawful, constitutional order. Next, the dissertation applies this account to the current coercive structure of international politics, showing it to be substantially characterized by dominating exercises of power. Then, proposals for the reform of international politics are evaluated in light of the value of non-domination: the Kantian foedus pacificum, John Rawls's Society of Peoples, the world state, and networked sub-, supra-, and transnational global governance institutions. In each case, the proposed reforms fail to create the conditions for the legitimate exercise of power free from domination or they are pathway infeasible. That is, the appropriate reforms cannot be instituted without also undermining the currently just relations between members of legitimate states. The final chapter of the dissertation argues that the creation of new, non-dominating institutions will require revolutionary action where those who wish to change the system may find that they must do wrong with the hope that, in the end, their 'leap into darkness' will be justified by the success of their reforms.
- Philosophy