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Tutor profile: Iain C.

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Iain C.
Humanities tutor
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Questions

Subject: Philosophy

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Question:

What implications does Derrida's deconstruction potentially have on modern political philosophy?

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Iain C.
Answer:

Deconstruction necessarily entails, via post-structuralist theory, that no system can be self-contained and that meaning is never identified in logos, the sign, but instead is endlessly deferred. For a modern political theory, for examples Hobbes' argument for absolutism represented by the sovereign, this would necessarily imply that the sovereign's meaning as an absolute monarch necessarily relies upon alternative symbols in order to represent this power. Derrida's thought also argues for the reliance upon affirmation instead of Hegelian negation in order to establish such meaning, making the case that binaries rely upon some form being primary and the other secondary, such as spoken discourse being supreme over written discourse, but that both rely upon each other for this binary. As a result, the sovereign that Hobbes relies upon would necessarily have to entail an anarchic state of nature that he envisions being abolished being conceptualised - similar to how, without "evil", "good" doesn't really mean anything. Additionally, deconstruction heavily problematizes the concept of metanarrative, due to its scepticism of systems in thought and grand narratives, heavily undermining Hobbes' case for a state of nature which progresses towards absolutism or for the mechanistic understanding of individuals that his work relies upon.

Subject: Political Science

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Question:

What are the primary cases for and against humanitarian intervention in conflict zones?

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Iain C.
Answer:

FOR: - Legal Case -- Counter-restrictionism, the 1945 UN Charter commits states to protect fundamental human rights, considering them just as important as peace and security -- While there is no legal basis for unilateral humanitarian intervention, a right does exist in customary international law in order to prevent persecution of civilians - Moral Case -- Sovereignty derives from a state's responsibility to protect their citizens, if it fails in this regard then it loses its sovereign rights -- Individuals have human rights, but also a duty to uphold the rights of others AGAINST: - There is no basis for humanitarian intervention in international law - States do not intervene for primarily humanitarian reasons - States are not allowed to risk the lives of their soldiers in order to save strangers - Issues of abuse, where "humanitarian intervention" may just be an invasion with no humanitarian characteristics - Selectivity of response, where humanitarian intervention can be weaponised by its use being picked to suit the intervening states interests - Ongoing debate about the moral principles behind intervention - Historical arguments that intervention does not work

Subject: International Relations

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Question:

What is the main difference between the liberal and realist schools of thought, and what new changes in the field of International Relations have come to influence these?

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Iain C.
Answer:

Liberal theories of International Relations revolve primarily around the cooperation of international actors in order to maximise their own self-interest. Liberals will point to institutions such as the United Nations, the European Union, and the African Union as examples of states cooperating in order to collectively succeed. By contrast, realist theories are more concerned with state competition and spheres of influence. Unlike liberal theories, realists consider the international system to be primarily anarchic rather than organised around international institutions, and points to examples such as European colonialism, the world wars, and the recent US-China hostilities as examples of this conflict over zones of interest or scarce resources. As these two schools are both rather old, new schools of thought have also opened up, such as constructivist theorists who are concerned with the ideas that compose the international system, as well as the Copenhagen school or "securitization" theory. The Copenhagen school draws on postmodern thinkers, as opposed to the modern philosophy that dominates International Relations, and characterises security as an insatiable demand put by states in order to facilitate cooperation on transnational issues, but also has a cynical implication as a power-grab against the citizenry. This school critically undermines liberal cooperation, especially in the face of issues such as terrorism or climate change, as a cynical domestic policy against democracy, but also undermines realist schools of thought, due to the emphasis on domestic policy in each state rather than focusing on a state's external interests.

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