Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The British Citizenship Test: The Case for Reform

. . . is FREE ACCESS from The Political Quarterly for the next month. The abstract is:

"Immigration presents a daunting challenge to successive British governments. The public ranks immigration as one of the leading policy issues after the economy and employment. There is also greater public support for stronger immigration controls than in many other countries. In response, government strategy has included the use of a citizenship test. While the citizenship test is widely acknowledged as one key part of immigration policy, the test has received surprisingly little critical analysis. This article is an attempt to bring greater attention to serious problems with the current test and to offer three recommendations for its revision and reform. First, there is a need to revise and update the citizenship test. Secondly, there is a need to expand the test to include questions about British history and basic law. The third recommendation is more wide-ranging: it is that we reconsider what we expect new citizens to know more broadly. The citizenship test should not be viewed as a barrier, but as a bridge. The focus should centre on what future citizens should be expected to know rather than how others might be excluded. The test should ensure that future citizens are suitably prepared for citizenship. There is an urgent need to improve the test and this should not be an opportunity wasted for the benefit of both citizens and future citizens alike."

Key words:
  • Britishness;
  • citizenship;
  • identity;
  • immigration;
  • public policy

Full, free access to this piece is here.

The UK Citizenship Test - New Third Edition

Readers may recall past commentaries on the UK citizenship test. All persons who want to secure Indefinite Leave to Remain (permitting permanent residency) or British citizenship must sit and pass the UK citizenship test.

Of course, the "citizenship test" (as it is commonly known) is a misnomer. Passing the test doesn't make anyone a citizen. Instead, the test's name is, in fact, the "Life in the UK" test.

The test used to emphasize the need for future citizens to become knowledgeable about their rights and how to secure employment without any questions about British history, geography or law. This made the test very different from the US citizenship test where there are questions about the Founding Fathers, America's largest rivers (the Mississippi and Missouri, of course) and basic points of law that citizens are expected to know. The British version emphasized the goal of future citizens being able to function in society; the American version perhaps has greater emphasis on historical and cultural knowledge instead.

My past commentary and criticisms can be listened to here (from 23 mins) on BBC Radio 4 or read here in The Political Quarterly.

One major problem I identified was that the then current test was woefully out of date. It was published in March 2007 and, thus, questions about British politics and policies could only be answered correctly by accurately noting what was true in March 2007. Since that time government departments have merged or been rebranded, programmes cut, etc. Plus, the test asked questions about census figures from 2001.

A second major problem I identified was the need for some inclusion of British history and culture - as well as some basic points of law. The former test omitted questions in these areas to its detriment. The right to remain silent and other rights are among those things we should expect citizens to know.

The government has now published a new textbook - the 3rd edition - from which questions on the citienship test will come from March 2013. The textbook has some welcome changes, such as bringing British history and culture back in although we await to see what exactly will be tested. One real concern is that the historical legacy will be politicised (or "Toryfied"), but this remains to be seen.

One potential concern is that things may have begun to swing too far the other way -- with far too much emphasis on a particular version of historical and cultural importance and far too little on daily British life. If so, this would be a move too far in the wrong direction.

Initial reports suggest that the test may have become much easier. Questions used to focus on various benefits programmes and the functioning of schools. But now questions - at least those released thus far - are more simple and less technical, such as the location of Stonehenge and the London Paralympics. If true, then one perhaps surprising result may well be that the test may be much easier to pass. So a Tory-led government focussed on reducing immigration may make it much easier for new immigrants to pass an important hurdle on the path to permanent residency and citizenship.

Expect to see much more soon on the new test.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sciences Po Graduate Political Theory Conference - Paris, 20-21 June 2013

 

Sciences Po Graduate Political Theory Conference
Keynote Speaker: Joseph Raz
 
The first Sciences Po Graduate Political Theory Conference is going to take place at Sciences Po, Paris, from June 20 to June 21st 2013.
 
We welcome contributions from young political theorists across the board, including the disciplines of political theory proper, the history of political thought, the epistemology of political science, etc. We are equally interested in accommodating a variety of theoretical approaches (analytical, normative, conceptual, historical) and intend to encourage a dialogue between these different methodologies. Also, we aim at geographic diversity, in that we shall try to promote a substantive academic exchange between young political theorists from Europe and their peers across the world.
The Sciences Po Graduate Political Theory Committee is happy to announce that Joseph Raz, famous legal, political and moral philosopher, will deliver the keynote address. The work of Joseph Raz covers a wide spectrum of topics, ranging from the relationship between law and politics, authority and reason, coercion and autonomy, moral neutrality and liberalism, to the normative intricacies of practical deliberation. Contributions that touch upon any of these subject-matters are warmly encouraged.

The Sciences Po Graduate Political Theory Conference will give doctoral students the opportunity of presenting their current work in front of their peers and other senior political theorists.
Each (2 to 2 and ½ hours-long) session of the conference will concentrate on two to three papers and will be led by a discussant from Sciences Po. Presentations will be followed by a Q&A period open to the public (professors and graduate students alike).

Breakfast, lunch and refreshments will also be provided for the duration of the conference.

Submission Information

Submission deadline: February 15, 2013

Submission/selection procedure: A detailed abstract (500 to 1,000 words) of the proposal should be sent to sciencespotheorygrad@gmail.com in PDF format. Any personal or institutional identification element should be expunged from the document (any information about the author that is included in the paper in one way or another will automatically lead to a rejection of the paper). Political theory students from the Ecole Doctorale of Sciences Po, Paris, will select approximately 15 proposals on a blind basis. The proposals and final papers should be written in English, which is also the working language of the Graduate Conference. The selected participants will be notified of their acceptance by March 15, 2013. All the other proposals will be acknowledged.

Selection committee: Aurélia Bardon (Sciences Po/CEVIPOF), Benjamin Boudou (Sciences Po/CEVIPOF), Elisabeth Chertok (Sciences Po/CEVIPOF), Alicia-Dorothy Mornington (Sciences Po/CEVIPOF), Giulia Oskian (Sciences Po/CEVIPOF), Andrei Poama (Sciences Po/CERI), Denis Ramond (Sciences Po/CEVIPOF), Elise Rouméas (Sciences Po/CEVIPOF)

For any further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us at: sciencespotheorygrad@gmail.com

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fully funded PhD students in Law at Durham University

European Research Council Project:
“Dividing Political Power among People(s): A New Federal Theory for the 21st Century”
RF Code: RF160043
ERC Grant agreement no.: 312304

CLOSING DATE for applications: 15 March 2013

About the award
The Law School at Durham University is pleased to invite applications for two three-year doctoral studentship, fully funded (fees and maintenance grant) as part of the ERC -funded project entitled “Dividing Political Power among People(s): A New Federal Theory for the 21st Century”. The project aims to explore international and national phenomena that have challenged the idea of the sovereign state, and will explore these developments through the lens of federal theory.

Eligibility
We are looking for candidates who are interested in pursuing doctoral research in one of three broad areas: (1) the United Kingdom and the “British Empire”; (2) American federalism – Old or New; or (3) German federalism – Old or New. Applicants should be outstanding law graduates, with a particular interest in constitutional or comparative law. They must be able to work independently, but will equally be part of a research team lead by Professor Schütze.

Deadline and how to apply
Applications must contain a CV, a short research proposal (3-4 pages), as well as one academic reference. They must be submitted by 15 March 2013 to: Professor Robert Schütze, Durham Law School, Palatine Centre – Stockton Road, Durham DH1 3LE. Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview and will be required to give a 10-minute presentation on their research proposal.

Further Information
For informal enquiries please contact Professor Robert Schütze (robert.schuetze@durham.ac.uk), and visit www.durham.ac.uk/law to find out more about the Law School. Durham Law School is one of the UK's most distinguished and prestigious law schools, and one of its leading centres for legal research. The Law School was ranked 4th in the UK in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), and belongs to the top 5 UK Law School according to the “Complete University Guide”.

CLICK HERE TO APPLY

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Climate Change symposium - free access to papers

. . . can be found here to the symposium I put together for PS: Political Science & Politics. Contributors authors are Thom Brooks, Stephen Gardiner, Clare Heyward, David Schlosberg, and Steve Vanderheiden.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Punishment - now available as eBook

. . . for Kindle here. And the latest Legal Theory Bookworm recommendation (many thanks to Larry Solum for the honour)!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

"The Capabilities Approach and Political Liberalism"

. . . is forthcoming in Thom Brooks and Martha C. Nussbaum (eds), Rawls's Political Liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013. The draft can be found here. The abstract:

John Rawls argues that A Theory of Justice suffers from a "serious problem": the problem of political stability. His theory failed to account for the reality that citizens are deeply divided by reasonable and incompatible religious, philosophical, and moral comprehensive doctrines. This fact of reasonable pluralism may pose a threat to political stability over time and requires a solution. Rawls proposes the idea of an overlapping consensus among incompatible comprehensive doctrines through the use of public reasons in his later Political Liberalism.

Rawls’s proposed solution to the problem of political stability has received much criticism. Some, such as Kurt Baier, Brian Barry, George Klosko, and Edward McClennen, argue that an overlapping consensus is relatively unnecessary. Rawls should have acknowledged existing resources in his account that might secure political stability over time without major changes to his original views about justice. Others, including Kent Greenawalt, Michael Sandel, Leif Wenar, and Iris Marion Young believe that an overlapping consensus is too fragile to secure political stability. Rawls correctly identifies a major problem for his original account, but he fails to provide a satisfactory solution.

I believe these objections rest on a mistake easily overlooked. Each objection claims that, for Rawls, the possibility of future political stability is to be guaranteed by an overlapping consensus alone. This perspective fails to recognize the central importance of the social minimum in securing political stability. There is, in fact, more resources to secure political stability than Rawls or his critics have recognized.

My discussion will begin with a brief explanation of why the problem of political stability raises an important challenge to Rawls’s views on justice and why he argues for an overlapping consensus as a solution to it. I will next consider the more important objections to Rawls’s solution and why these fail. I will argue that the social minimum might better support political stability if it is broadly understood in terms of the capabilities approach. This approach is compatible with Rawls’s political liberalism and it provides a more robust understanding of a just social minimum. Political stability does not rely upon an overlapping consensus alone—and it may be better secured where the capabilities approach plays a more central role. Therefore, Rawls does provide a illuminating solution to the problem of political stability that is more compelling if we incorporate the capabilities approach into political liberalism.

"Philosophy Unbound: The Idea of Global Philosophy"

. . . is forthcoming at Metaphilosophy and available here. The abstract:


The future of philosophy is moving towards ‘global philosophy’. The idea of global philosophy is the view that different philosophical approaches may engage more substantially with each other to solve philosophical problems. Most solutions attempt to use only those available resources located within one philosophical tradition. A more promising approach might be to expand the range of available resources to better assist our ability to offer more compelling solutions. This search for new horizons in order to improve our clarity about philosophical issues is at the heart of global philosophy. The idea of global philosophy encourages us to look beyond our traditions to improve our philosophical problem-solving by our own lights. Global philosophy is a new approach whose time is coming. This article offers the first account of this approach and assessment of its future promise.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

CFP: Oxford Graduate Conference in Political Theory


 

CALL FOR PAPERS

 

2013 OXFORD GRADUATE CONFERENCE IN POLITICAL THEORY

 

‘THE POLITICS OF EQUALITY’

 

DEPARTMENT OF POLITICS AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD

 

25th – 26th APRIL 2013

 

Paper proposals are invited for the second Oxford Graduate Conference in Political Theory, to be held at the University of Oxford Department of Politics and International Relations on 25th-26th April 2013. The theme will be ‘The Politics of Equality’, which may be interpreted broadly from a range of approaches within political theory. The keynote speakers will be Jonathan Wolff (University College London) and Nils Holtug (University of Copenhagen).

 

This conference aims to interrogate the concept, practices, and implications of egalitarian politics. Concerns with equality are increasingly prevalent in contemporary political discourse. Yet, the distinctively political questions of enacting egalitarian aims often receive little attention from political theorists. We invite submissions on any topic pertaining to the meaning, historical development, application, or critique of egalitarian politics.

 

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

·       The meaning of equality and reasons for pursuing it

·       Promises and limits of the state in pursuing equality

·       The relationship between markets and egalitarian aims

·       The implications of egalitarianism for the operation of the state and the economy

·       Egalitarianism and social movements

·       Engendering equality: gender, race, and sexuality

·       Tensions between equality and other principles, particularly liberty and desert

 

Accepted papers will be organized into themed panels, followed by discussion with Oxford graduate students, faculty members, and other conference attendees. Speakers will be provided with accommodation, subject to distance and availability.

 

Proposals of no more than 500 words are requested by 20th January 2013, with accepted papers to follow in full by 31st March 2013. Please submit abstracts formatted for blind review, along with your name and a brief academic CV, to oxford.poltheory.conference@gmail.com. Details for registration to follow shortly.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The Global Justice Reader

. . . can be found here. It's abstract:

The Global Justice Reader is a first-of-its kind collection that brings together key foundational and contemporary writings on this important topic in moral and political philosophy.

•Brings together key foundational and contemporary writings on this important topic in moral and political philosophy

•Offers a brief introduction followed by important readings on subjects ranging from sovereignty, human rights, and nationalism to global poverty, terrorism, and international environmental justice

•Presents the writings of key figures in the field, including Thomas Hobbes, Immanuel Kant, John Rawls, Thomas Pogge, Peter Singer, and many others

Punishment

. . . can be found here. The abstract:

Punishment is a topic of increasing importance for citizens and policymakers. Why should we punish criminals? Which theory of punishment is most compelling? Is the death penalty ever justified? These questions and many others are addressed in this highly engaging guide.

Punishment is a critical introduction to the philosophy of punishment, offering a new and refreshing approach that will benefit readers of all backgrounds and interests. The first critical guide to examine all leading contemporary theories of punishment, this book explores – among others – the communicative theory of punishment, restorative justice, and the unified theory of punishment. Thom Brooks examines several case studies in detail, including capital punishment, juvenile offending, and domestic abuse. Punishment highlights the problems and prospects of different approaches in order to argue for a more pluralistic and compelling perspective that is novel and groundbreaking.

Hegel's Political Philosophy: A Systematic Reading of the Philosophy of Right

The abstract is:

"Hegel’s Philosophy of Right is widely acknowledged as one of the most important works in the history of political philosophy. While most agree that Hegel intended this work to be interpreted as a part of his philosophical system, the genuine interpretive relevance of the system to understanding the Philosophy of Right remains contested. This book defends a new approach to the study of the Philosophy of Right that takes more seriously its systematic structure and reveals new insights into Hegel’s positions on a broad range of topics, including property, punishment, morality, law, monarchy, and law. This new second edition expands this new reading to further topics, such as democracy and history. There is also a new chapter containing replies to previous discussions of the first edition. We may achieve a better understanding of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right if we adopt a systematic reading."
 
Edited introduction and links available here.

Monday, January 07, 2013

The Real Challenge of Climate Change

. . . is available here from PS: Political Science & Politics. The abstract:

Climate change is confirmed by a global scientific consensus. Although no serious disagreement about whether climate change exists, deep controversy remains about what should be done about its many harmful effects. These effects are wide-ranging and include, for example, the increasing threat to coastal wetlands from rising sea levels, the greater likelihood of droughts harming agricultural production, and the spread of tropical diseases (Pachauri and Reisinger 2008). One further effect is the increasing risk of triggering an environmental catastrophe, such as an ice age, that might result in major loss of human lives.

Climate Change Justice

PS: Political Science & Politics - a journal of the American Political Science Association published by Cambridge University Press - has published its new issue including a symposium I have put together on the topic of "Climate Change Justice":

Thom Brooks - Introduction to Climate Change Justice

David Schlosberg - Political Challenges of the Climate-Changed Society

Steve Vanderheiden -  What Justice Theory and Climate-Change Politics Can Learn from Each Other

Clare Heyward - Situating and Abandoning Geoengineering: A Typology of Five Responses to Dangerous Climate Change

Stephen M. Gardiner - The Desperation Argument for Geoengineering

Thom Brooks - The Real Challenge of Climate Change

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Hegel's Political Philosophy - American release

I'm delighted to confirm the US release of my Hegel's Political Philosophy: A Systematic Reading of the Philosophy of the Right, second edition (see Amazon.com website):

A new, significantly expanded edition of the first systematic reading of Hegel's political philosophy.

New for this edition: • A more detailed explanation of Hegel's philosophical system• Two new chapters on Hegel's theories of democracy and history• An appendix detailing the implications this work has for future interpretations of Hegelian philosophyHegel's Elements of the Philosophy of Right is widely acknowledged to be one of the most important works in the history of political philosophy. • Sets out the difference between 'systematic' and 'non-systematic' readings of the Elements of the Philosophy of Right• Outlines the unique structure of Hegel's philosophical arguments• Explores key areas of Hegel's political philosophy: his theories of property, punishment, morality, law, monarchy, war, democracy and history

Punishment - American launch

I'm delighted to announce the delayed US launch of my new monograph, Punishment (found here on Amazon.com).

Punishment is a topic of increasing importance for citizens and policymakers. Why should we punish criminals? Which theory of punishment is most compelling? Is the death penalty ever justified? These questions and many others are addressed in this highly engaging guide.

Punishment is a critical introduction to the philosophy of punishment, offering a new and refreshing approach that will benefit readers of all backgrounds and interests. The first critical guide to examine all leading contemporary theories of punishment, this book explores – among others – the communicative theory of punishment, restorative justice, and the unified theory of punishment. Thom Brooks examines several case studies in detail, including capital punishment, juvenile offending, and domestic abuse. Punishment highlights the problems and prospects of different approaches in order to argue for a more pluralistic and compelling perspective that is novel and groundbreaking.