Sovereignty: Moral and Historical Perspectives

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Georgetown University Press, 2014 - Political Science - 181 pages
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Johnson examines the idea of sovereignty, which formally emerged as a political ideal in the 17th century. Most analysts understand sovereignty as referring to a particular national territory inhabited by a particular people, and the right of those people to defend their territory against any challenge to it. But Johnson contends that sovereignty's pre-Enlightement historical roots, drawing on classic just war thinking, provide an alternative approach: responsibility for the common good. He claims that these two conceptions--sovereignty as simply self-defense and sovereignty as acting on behalf of the common good--are in direct conflict, and that contemporary interpretations of international affairs must acknowledge this tension. Part I focuses on the two conceptions of sovereignty as they developed historically, while Part II turns to applications: historical and radical Islam, and then to the international debate over the "responsibility to protect" as expressed in a variety of contemporary conflicts. Johnson's aim is to create a new conception of sovereignty that synthesizes notions of self-defense with an understanding of the common good.

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About the author (2014)

James Turner Johnson is Distinguished Professor of Religion and a professor in the graduate program in political science at Rutgers University. He has received Rockefeller, Guggenheim, and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships and various other research grants and has directed two NEH summer seminars. He is the author of eleven books and editor or coeditor of five others, including Can Modern War be Just?, Ethics and the Use of Force, The Quest for Peace, and Morality and Contemporary Warfare.

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