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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Spring 2006

GOV 382M • State Sovereignty and Human Rights

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
38125 TH
7:00 PM-10:00 PM
BUR 214

Course Description

Graduate standing required. This seminar illuminates and analyzes the philosophical and sociological dimensions of an empirical paradox. Today's international order is founded on the sovereignty of territorially bounded nation-states. On the one hand, democratic nation-states in particular claim sovereignty on the basis of the democratic self-determination of their "people." On the other hand, modern democracies often claim to act, and sometimes might want to act, in the name of universal principles of human rights. But here's the rub: how can universal principles be circumscribed within particular civic communities, within the established legal orders of individual polities? How, if at all, can a political community embrace both human rights and citizens' rights? Does our territorially circumscribed, state-centric world of international relations preclude any cosmopolitan standpoint, and that of human rights in particular? As a point of departure the seminar will examine the work of three authors who cannot answer our question but who pose useful perspectives for its analysis.


Immanuel Kant, "Perpetual Peace" (1795) Kant, Metaphysics of Morals, Part 1 (Metaphysical Elements of Justice) (1797) Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) John Rawls, The Law of Peoples (1999) Course Packet


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