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 Department: Department of Political Science
 Collection: UNT Theses and Dissertations
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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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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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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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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New Wine in Old Wineskins: Hobbes’s Use and Abuse of Religious Rhetoric

New Wine in Old Wineskins: Hobbes’s Use and Abuse of Religious Rhetoric

Date: December 2014
Creator: Higgins, Nicholas J
Description: Thomas Hobbes’s knowledge of religious doctrine, typology, and use religious rhetoric in his writings is often glossed over in an over-eager attempt to establish his preeminence as a founder of modern political theory and the social contract tradition. Such action, however is an injustice to Hobbes himself, who recognized that in order to establish a new, and arguably radical, political position founded upon reason and nominalist materialism he had to reform people’s understanding of religious revelation, and Christianity specifically. Rather than merely move to a new epistemological foundation, Hobbes was aware that the only way to ensure religion does become a phoenix was to examine and undermine the foundations of religious thought in its own terms. This reformation of religious language, critique of Christianity, and attempt to eliminate man’s belief in their obligation to God was done in order to promote a civil society in which religion was servant of the state. Through reforming religious language, Hobbes was able to demote religion as a worldview; removing man’s fear of the afterlife or obligation to obey God over a civil sovereign. Religious doctrine no longer was in competition with the civil state, but is transformed into a tool of the state, ...
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Ethnic Similarity and Rivalry Relations

Ethnic Similarity and Rivalry Relations

Date: December 2014
Creator: McCallister Jr., Gerald L
Description: Research on ethnicity and conflict treats the concept of ethnicity as defining the actors in these conflicts, whereas research on the construction and maintenance of ethnic identity explores why ethnicity unifies individuals into a single social group. What happens when this unifying concept is divided between two enemy countries? How does this situation influence peace settlements over territorial issues, armed conflict, and economic relations between these countries? To answer these questions, I create a continuous measure of ethnic similarity between rivals. I find that ethnic similarity can facilitate cooperation and exacerbate conflictual interactions between rivals, but governments will seek to limit interactions with their rival when the cross border ethnic groups are minorities. In addition, I create categorical predictors of ethnic similarity, which reveal nuances in these relationships. Specifically, rivalries sharing a pan-ethnic identity are more likely to engage in conflict regardless of actual ethnic similarity, and dyads with a majority in one country sharing ethnicity with a minority in another country are less likely to fight once in a state of rivalry. This is because a quid pro quo exists between these rivals where one rival can reduce oppression of the minority in exchange for the other rival not ...
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Electoral Rules, Political Parties, and Peace Duration in Post-conflict States

Electoral Rules, Political Parties, and Peace Duration in Post-conflict States

Date: December 2014
Creator: Kisin, Tatyana Tuba Kelman
Description: This dissertation examines the following research question: Which types of electoral rules chosen in post-conflict states best promote peace? And are those effects conditional upon other factors? I argue that the effects are conditional upon the types of political parties that exist in the post-conflict environment. Although this explanation is contrary to scholars that speak of political parties as products of the electoral system, political parties often predate the choice of electoral system. Especially in post-conflict states, political parties play an important role in the negotiation process and hence in the design of the electoral rules. I argue that the effects of electoral rules on peace duration are mitigated by the degree to which a party system is broad (nonexclusive) or narrow (exclusive). I develop a theoretical model that led to three hypotheses focusing on the independent role that political parties play in mitigating the effects of electoral rules on peace duration. To test these hypotheses, I use the Cox proportional hazard model on 57 post-conflict states from 1990 to 2009 and had competitive elections. The empirical results show support for the main argument of this study. First, the findings show that electoral rules alone do not increase or decrease ...
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Thucydides’ Sparta: Law, Piety, and the Regime

Thucydides’ Sparta: Law, Piety, and the Regime

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Date: August 2014
Creator: Hadley, Travis Stuart
Description: My dissertation investigates Thucydides’ presentation of Sparta. By viewing the war through Sparta, one is confronted with debates on the moral dimensions of war. Sparta decries the imperialism of Athens as unjust and while the Athenians imply that such claims are merely Spartan ‘hypocrisy’ and therefore that Sparta does not truly take justice seriously, my study contends that the Spartan concern with justice and piety is genuine. While the Athenians present a sophisticated and enlightened view of what they believe guides all political actions (a view most scholars treat as Thucydides’ own) my study argues that Sparta raises problems for key arguments of the ‘Athenian thesis.’ Through a closer study of Thucydides’ Sparta, including his neglected Book 5, I locate details of both Sparta’s prosecution of the war and their regime that must be considered before agreeing with the apparent sobriety and clear-sightedness of the Athenians, thus leading the reader into the heart of Thucydides’ view of morality in both foreign affairs and domestic politics. A portion of this research is currently being prepared as an article-length study on the broad and important issue of hypocrisy in foreign affairs among states.
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