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 Degree Discipline: Political Science
 Collection: UNT Theses and Dissertations
Montesquieu, Diversity, and the American Constitutional Debate

Montesquieu, Diversity, and the American Constitutional Debate

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Date: December 2015
Creator: Drummond, Nicholas W.
Description: It has become something of a cliché for contemporary scholars to assert that Madison turned Montesquieu on his head and thereafter give little thought to the Frenchman’s theory that republics must remain limited in territorial size. Madison did indeed present a formidable challenge to Montesquieu’s theory, but I will demonstrate in this dissertation that the authors of the Federalist Papers arrived at the extended sphere by following a theoretical pathway already cemented by the French philosopher. I will also show that Madison’s “practical sphere” ultimately concedes to Montesquieu that excessive territorial size and high levels of heterogeneity will overwhelm the citizens of a republic and enable the few to oppress the many. The importance of this dissertation is its finding that the principal mechanism devised by the Federalists for dealing with factions—the enlargement of the sphere—was crafted specifically for the purpose of moderating interests, classes, and sects within an otherwise relatively homogeneous nation. Consequently, the diverse republic that is America today may be exposed to the existential threat anticipated by Montesquieu’s theory of size—the plutocratic oppression of society by an elite class that employs the strategy of divide et impera.
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Foreign Sponsorship and the Development of Rebel Parties

Foreign Sponsorship and the Development of Rebel Parties

Date: December 2015
Creator: Marshall, Michael C.
Description: This dissertation examines the emergence, survival, performance, and national impact of rebel parties following negotiated settlements. Building on a growing literature examining the environmental and organizational factors affecting insurgent-to-party transformations, this dissertation asks why some insurgent organizations thrive as political parties in post-conflict environments and others fail to make such a transformation. I propose that foreign actors play a pivotal role in the formation of what I call “protégé parties,” which are better equipped to make the transformation into political parties than other rebel groups. Further, different kinds of sponsors have varying effects on transformation. Empirical analysis supports these propositions, finding that protégé parties with authoritarian sponsorship are better equipped to develop than those backed by democracies or no one.
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The Political Philosophy of Rabelais’s Pantagruel: Reconciling Thought and Action

The Political Philosophy of Rabelais’s Pantagruel: Reconciling Thought and Action

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Date: August 2015
Creator: Haglund, Timothy
Description: Political thinkers of the Renaissance, foremost among them Niccolò Machiavelli and Desiderius Erasmus, authored works commonly referred to as “mirrors of princes.” These writings described how princes should rule, and also often recommended a certain arrangement or relationship between the intellectual class and the political powers. François Rabelais’s five books of Pantagruel also depict and recommend a new relationship between these elements of society. For Rabelais, the tenets of a philosophy that he calls Pantagruelism set the terms between philosophers and rulers. Pantagruelism, defined in Rabelais’s Quart Livre as “gaiety of spirit confected in contempt for fortuitous things,” suggest a measured attitude toward politics. Rabelais’s prince, Pantagruel, accordingly rejects the tendencies of ancient thinkers such as Diogenes the Cynic who viewed politics as futile. Yet Pantagruel also rejects the anti-theoretical disposition of modern thinkers such as Machiavelli who placed too much confidence in politics. I demonstrate how Rabelais warns against the philosophers’ entrance into public service, and how he simultaneously promotes a less selfish philosophy than that of Diogenes. I argue that Pantagruel’s correction of his friend Panurge through the consultations of experts regarding the latter’s marriage problem shows that fortune will always trouble human life and politics. I also ...
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Hobbes’s Deceiving God: the Correspondence Between Thomas Hobbes and Rene Descartes

Hobbes’s Deceiving God: the Correspondence Between Thomas Hobbes and Rene Descartes

Date: August 2015
Creator: Gorescu, Gabriela
Description: In presenting their correspondence, I highlight the means in which Hobbes is able to divorce nature and politics in his philosophy. This is done by bringing to light Hobbes’s agreement with Descartes’s deceiving God argument. First, I demonstrate Hobbes’s hidden agreement with it by analyzing his objection to Descartes’s first Meditation. Second, I show that Hobbes and Descartes both retreat into consciousness in order to deal with the possibility of deception on the behalf of God. Third, I trace Hobbes’s rational justification for entertaining that very possibility. Fourth, I bring forward Hobbes’s certain principle, that God is incomprehensible. Fifth, I demonstrate Hobbes’s rationalization for rendering nature incomprehensible in turn. From this key insight, the differences between the two philosophers stand out more. Whereas Descartes rids himself of the possibility of a deceiving God, Hobbes does not. Sixth, I show that Descartes needs to rid himself of that possibility in order to have a basis for science, Hobbes’s science is such that he does not need to rid himself of that possibility. My investigation ends by considering both Hobbes’s and Descartes’s stance on nature, in relation to politics. I find that Hobbes’s principle is much more practical that Descartes’s principle. Hobbes’s ...
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Friendship, Politics, and the Good in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

Friendship, Politics, and the Good in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

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Date: May 2015
Creator: Pascarella, John Antonio
Description: In Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Books VIII and IX provide A philosophic examination of friendship. While these Books initially appear to be non sequiturs in the inquiry, a closer examination of the questions raised by the preceding Books and consideration of the discussion of friendship's position between two accounts of pleasure in Books VII and X indicate friendship's central role in the Ethics. In friendship, Aristotle finds a uniquely human capacity that helps readers understand the good is distinct from pleasure by leading them to think seriously about what they can hold in common with their friends throughout their lives without changing who they are. What emerges from Aristotle's account of friendship is a nuanced portrait of human nature that recognizes the authoritative place of the intellect in human beings and how its ability to think about an end and hold its thinking in relation to that end depends upon whether it orders or is ordered by pleasures and pains. Aristotle lays the groundwork for this conclusion throughout the Ethics by gradually disclosing pleasures and pains are not caused solely by things we feel through the senses, but by reasoned arguments and ideas as well. Through this insight, we can begin ...
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Plebiscites

Plebiscites

Date: May 2015
Creator: Fonseca Acosta, Rosa
Description: This study investigates factors that can influence leaders to use plebiscites to settle territorial claims. A quick survey of the plebiscite literature shows that the method has been extensively mentioned in the legal, historical, and philosophical fields (mostly through case studies) but less so in political science. This thesis is the first attempt, to my knowledge, to quantitatively investigate the different factors that can influence a leader to use a plebiscite. Using the latest version of the ICOW dataset, I test political and economic theories to try to explain the variation in the decision outcome. This study includes the following variables: identity ties, economic strength, an interaction between identity ties and economic strength, internal constraints (regime type and violent interaction), and external constraints (membership to international organizations). The results suggest that identity ties offer the strongest explanation as to why leaders settle a territorial claim with a plebiscite. Plebiscites have been rarely used to settle territorial claims, but when used they tend to settle cases permanently. This thesis serves as an attempt to revive a method that while difficult to agree upon, can be successful in resolving territorial claims permanently, and more importantly peacefully.
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Not All Truth Commissions Are Alike: Understanding Their Limitations and Impact

Not All Truth Commissions Are Alike: Understanding Their Limitations and Impact

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Date: December 2014
Creator: Nichols, Angela D.
Description: This dissertation project develops a theoretical understanding of how truth commissions achieve legitimacy and thus contribute to peace and stability in the aftermath of major traumatic events (e.g. civil war, mass killings, regime changes). I identify three components of truth commission legitimacy---authority, fairness, and transparency---that facilitate beneficial outcomes for societies emerging from a period of severe human rights repression or civil war. I theorize and test how institutions with these legitimacy characteristics contribute to an increase in respect for human rights and decrease political violence in transitioning societies, thus contributing to peace and stability. In order to test the hypothesized relationships, I create a truth commission characteristic dataset that provides greater detail than existing datasets. This project is a contribution to our understanding of the relationships between human rights, institutions, conflict, and international law. It provides one explanation for the inconsistent findings of extant work concerning the impact of transitional justice, generally and truth commissions, specifically. I provide evidence that there are identifiable "best practices" that truth commissions should consider adopting. This information can assist states, intergovernmental organizations, and nongovernmental organizations alike in making difficult decisions regarding the transitional justice process, which is expensive and time consuming further necessitating an ...
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Why Be Friends? Amicus Curiae Briefs in State Courts of Last Resort

Why Be Friends? Amicus Curiae Briefs in State Courts of Last Resort

Date: December 2014
Creator: Perkins, Jared D.
Description: While there has been a substantial body of research on interest group activity in U.S. federal courts, there has been comparatively little analysis of interest group engagement with state courts. Given that state courts adjudicate the vast majority of cases in the American legal system and very few cases are appealed to the Supreme Court, understanding why organized interests participate in these courts is of great importance. The present study analyzes interest group involvement as amicus curiae in all state courts of last resort from 1995-1999 to examine what factors motivate organized interests to turn to the courts. The results indicate that interest groups are primarily motivated by their policy goals in deciding which cases to file amicus briefs in, but that they are limited in their ability to file by institutional constraints unique to state courts of last resort. This research provides insight into interest group behavior, state courts and the role organized interests play in influencing legal outcomes in the American states.
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The First Days of Spring: An Analysis of the International Treatment of Homosexuality

The First Days of Spring: An Analysis of the International Treatment of Homosexuality

Date: December 2013
Creator: Galvan, Michael R.
Description: In recent history, the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) persons have been in constant fluctuation. Many states criminalize homosexual behavior while other states legally recognize same-sex marriages and same-sex adoptions. There are also irregular patterns where LGBT interest groups form across the globe. With this research project, I begin to explain why these discrepancies in the treatment of homosexuality and the formation of LGBT interest groups occur. I develop a theory that the most obvious contrast across the globe occurs when analyzing the treatment of homosexuals in OECD member states versus non-OECD countries. OECD nations tend to see the gay community struggle for more advanced civil rights and government protections, while non-OECD states have to worry about fundamental human rights to life and liberty. I find that this specific dichotomization is what causes the irregular LGBT interest group formation pattern across the globe; non-OECD nations tend to have fewer LGBT interest groups than their OECD counterparts. When looking at why non-OECD nations and OECD nations suppress the rights of their gay citizens, I find that religion plays a critical role in the suppression of the gay community. In this analysis, I measure religion several different ways, including ...
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International Learning and the Diffusion of Civil Conflict

International Learning and the Diffusion of Civil Conflict

Date: August 2014
Creator: Linebarger, Christopher
Description: Why does civil conflict spread from country to country? Existing research relies primarily on explanations of rebel mobilization tied to geographic proximity to explain this phenomenon. However, this approach is unable to explain why civil conflict appears to spread across great geographic distances, and also neglects the government’s role in conflict. To explain this phenomenon, this dissertation formulates an informational theory in which individuals contemplating rebellion against their government, or “proto-rebels,” observe the success and failure of rebels throughout the international system. In doing so, proto-rebels and governments learn whether rebellion will be fruitful, which is then manifested in the timing of rebellion and repression. The core of the dissertation is composed of three essays. The first exhorts scholars of the international spread of civil violence to directly measure proto-rebel mobilization. I show that such mobilization is associated with conflicts across the entire international system, while the escalation to actual armed conflict is associated with regional conflicts. The second chapter theorizes that proto-rebels learn from successful rebellions across the international system. This relationship applies globally, although it is attenuated by cultural and regime-type similarity. Finally, the third chapter theorizes that governments are aware of this process and engage in repression ...
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