Special Responsibilities: Global Problems and American Power

Overview

The language of special responsibilities is ubiquitous in world politics, with policymakers and commentators alike speaking and acting as though particular states have, or ought to have, unique obligations in managing global problems. Surprisingly, scholars are yet to provide any in-depth analysis of this fascinating aspect of world politics. This path-breaking study examines the nature of special responsibilities, the complex politics that surround them and how they condition international social power. The ...
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Special Responsibilities

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Overview

The language of special responsibilities is ubiquitous in world politics, with policymakers and commentators alike speaking and acting as though particular states have, or ought to have, unique obligations in managing global problems. Surprisingly, scholars are yet to provide any in-depth analysis of this fascinating aspect of world politics. This path-breaking study examines the nature of special responsibilities, the complex politics that surround them and how they condition international social power. The argument is illustrated with detailed case-studies of nuclear proliferation, climate change and global finance. All three problems have been addressed by an allocation of special responsibilities, but while this has structured politics in these areas, it has also been the subject of ongoing contestation. With a focus on the United States, this book argues that power must be understood as a social phenomenon and that American power varies significantly across security, economic and environmental domains.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This outstanding book is the first serious attempt to think through the idea of "special responsibilities" and the meaning of legitimacy in the context of world politics today. Conceptually innovative and empirically wide ranging, the study with its star-studded cast of leading scholars is bound to become the defining text on the subject for many years to come."
Professor Michael Cox, London School of Economics

"This important study provides a systematic and highly sophisticated analysis of special responsibilities – conceptually, historically, and applied to climate change, nuclear proliferation and global finance. It argues convincingly for the existence of a distinctive politics of responsibility constituted both by material power and social norms. A major contribution to international relations theory and to the analysis of global order."
Andrew Hurrell, Oxford University

“"With great power there must also come great responsibility.” That basic idea – popularized by Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spiderman) – has been as ubiquitous in international relations practice as it is poorly understood in scholarship. Until now. Bukovansky and her co-authors illuminate the concept in both normative and positive theoretical terms and illustrate their arguments with superb case studies. An intelligent, important study.”
William C. Wohlforth, Dartmouth College

"Here, a team of American and European scholars makes one of the best efforts yet to identify the norms of hegemonic and great-power responsibility by examining three “problem areas” in contemporary world politics: nonproliferation, climate change, and international financial regulation."
Foreign Affairs

"This fascinating, groundbreaking study provides an in-depth analysis of special responsibilities and legitimacy in world politics. The authors successfully analyze the practice of evoking special responsibility, explicating with theory and evidence how special responsibilities have been allocated and contested in important global problems in world politics. Summing up: recommended. All readership levels."
K. M. Zaarour, Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781107691698
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 5/17/2012
  • Pages: 302
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Mlada Bukovansky is Associate Professor of Government at Smith College. She is the author of Legitimacy and Power Politics: The American and French Revolutions in International Political Culture (2002).

Ian Clark is E. H. Carr Professor of International Politics at Aberystwyth University. He is the author of many books, most recently a three-volume study of international legitimacy - Legitimacy in International Society (2005), International Legitimacy and World Society (2007) and Hegemony in International Society (2011).

Robyn Eckersley is Professor of Political Science in the School of Social and Political Sciences and Program Director of the Master of International Relations Program at the University of Melbourne. She is author of The Green State: Rethinking Democracy and Sovereignty (2004) and editor (with J. Barry) of The State and the Global Ecological Crisis (2005) and (with A. Dobson) Political Theory and the Ecological Challenge (2006).

Richard MacKay Price is a Professor in the Department of Political Science, University of British Columbia. He is author of The Chemical Weapons Taboo (1997), co-editor with Mark W. Zacher of The United Nations and Global Security (2004) and editor of Moral Limit and Possibility in World Politics (2008).

Christian Reus Smit holds the Chair in International Relations at the European University Institute in Florence. He is the author of American Power and World Order (2004), co-author of Theories of International Relations (2001, 2005, 2008), editor of The Politics of International Law (2004) and co-editor with Duncan Snidal of The Oxford Handbook of International Relations (2008).

Nicholas J. Wheeler holds a Chair in the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth University. He is the author of Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society (2000), co-author (with Ken Booth) of The Security Dilemma: Fear, Cooperation and Trust in World Politics (2007) and co-editor (with Tim Dunne) of Human Rights in Global Politics (2000).

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Table of Contents

Introduction; Part I. Theoretical Framework: 1. A practice in search of a theory; 2. Special responsibilities in world politics; Part II. Three Global Problems: 3. Nuclear proliferation; 4. Climate change; 5. Global finance; Part III. Ethical Dimensions: 6. The ethics of special responsibilities; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.
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