Philosopher’s Cocoon Philosophy Conference 2015 Abstract

The Need for A Concept of Government

Abstract: The philosophical literature concerning global political institutions has overlooked a concept that is central for understanding political normative claims: the idea of a government. Literature concerning global justice, global democracy, and human rights often relies on the assumption of a Westphalian state-system. This assumption creates a false set of options for global political organization, causing philosophers to overlook a number of possible institutional arrangements. In this paper, I argue that we ought to develop a conceptual distinction between ‘governance,’ ‘government,’ and ‘state.’ Developing this distinction allows for a better understanding of the possibilities for global institution building, the normative implication of those institutions, and a more accurate understanding of already existing supranational institutions. Using the EU as the primary example of a government without a state, I claim that such a concept of government is necessary in order to resolve disputes concerning the nature of post-national and supranational institutions.

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