Political Research Quarterly

Sage Publications, Inc.
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  • Legitimate Authority in Forceful Resistance and the Consent Requirement

    Individual victims of injustice may permissibly engage in a range of dissident activities to challenge unjust practices, policies, or institutions, so they could better enjoy their entitlements as a matter of justice. Resisters typically claim to engage in resistance for a larger group of victims, but the conditions leading to resistance tend to prevent them from obtaining a clear mandate from their “constituents.” In recent debates on legitimate authority to use defensive force, several theorists argue that such authority requires actual and informed consent of the victims on whose behalf resistance is undertaken. This article argues against that view. Two interpretations of the consent requirement are examined. In the first, consent of the people is measured by popular support for a resistance movement. In the second, consent is regarded as a kind of moral resource that can serve to justify defensive force. After refuting the arguments in support of the consent requirement, this article develops an alternative account of legitimate authority in forceful resistance which is not based on consent. It identifies a set of criteria for evaluating the insurgents’ claim to legitimate authority.

  • Ne Me Quitte Pas: The Laws’ Argument in Plato’s Crito and Migrants’ Obligations to Their Political Communities

    This paper argues that in their criticism of Socrates’s prospective evasion, the Laws of the Crito make two arguments relevant to the discussion of the ethics of migration, labeled here the “Argument from Parentage” and the “Argument from Corruption.” When considered from the perspective of liberal democracies, those arguments help us realize that political communities should be considered as a subject of justice in migration alongside individuals, and that migration might entail some citizen-to-community obligations. This means that some correctives may be justified to offset the moral costs of some acts of migration. This paper concludes by exploring how the extension of local voting rights in absentia could be one such corrective.

  • Political Inequality in the Digital World: The Puzzle of Asian American Political Participation Online

    This paper adds to existing literature by reassessing the racial participation gap after placing online activity within the repertoire of minorities’ political actions. Even though Asian Americans are the most resourced in terms of Internet access, I theorize about how individual and structural-level impediments uniquely disadvantage this group from participating in politics online—widening overall participation disparities. Using data from the 2016 National Asian American Survey, I find that while the racial participation gap is similar for Latina/os and African Americans compared to whites, regardless of the activity’s platform either offline or online, disparities magnify solely for Asian Americans when considering digital modes of political behavior. The paper ends by noting how the Internet may contribute to rather than solve issues of political inequality across race and discusses distortions in which political voices are heard or muted offline and online.

  • Voter Beliefs and Strategic Voting in Two-Round Elections

    How widespread is strategic voting in two-round electoral systems, and which types of voters are most likely to engage in such behavior? While runoff elections are common in presidential systems around the world, research on strategic voting in these settings remains limited. This paper explores four different types of strategic behavior that are possible in two-round systems, including some types, such as “strong-to-weak” strategic voting, which are not possible in single-shot elections. We use a nationwide survey to assess the incidence and correlates of strategic voting in Brazil’s 2018 presidential election, where thirteen candidates competed in the first round. We find evidence of “weak-to-strong” strategic voting at a similar rate to that documented in single-round elections in other countries. We find little evidence of other types of strategic voting. Furthermore, we show that voters’ confidence in their predictions of the likely electoral outcome and their ideological preferences strongly predict strategic voting. These results point to the importance of accounting for voter beliefs and attitudes in addition to objective voter characteristics to explain strategic voting.

  • Defending Instrumental Rationality against Critical Theorists

    Central to much critical theory is the critique of instrumental rationality (roughly, the ability to pick good means to ends). This critique is overstated, I suggest. Critical theorists often depict instrumental rationality too narrowly, and many criticize the wrong target, for example, attacking capitalist instrumental rationality when the fundamental problem is capitalism, not instrumental rationality. Nonetheless, critical theorists’ critique requires certain changes to orthodox accounts of instrumental rationality. I offer a more palatable definition, highlight instrumental rationality’s essential contestability, and show that it can actually help us pick ends. Everyone needs instrumental rationality, especially Habermasian critical theorists. And far from instrumental rationality being amoral, I argue that because instrumental rationality almost always involves multiple ends, one end may prohibit immoral means, acting as a side-constraint. Ultimately, the substance of critical theorists’ critiques remains highly important but should not be framed in opposition to instrumental rationality.

  • Ideology and Specific Support for the Supreme Court

    We develop and assess an account of ideological asymmetries in public support for the Supreme Court. We find that specific support for the Supreme Court is more strongly negatively related to perceptions that the Court is overly liberal than perceptions that the Court is overly conservative. Our findings provide a more complete theoretical account of dynamics in specific support for the Supreme Court and indicate a mechanism behind the recent decline in the Supreme Court’s public standing.

  • The Political Significance of Luck: A Thucydidean Perspective

    Contemporary authorities invoke luck to explain the arbitrariness of economic success, to emphasize our shared vulnerability to disaster, and to urge more generous policy, legislation, and governance. According to Robert Frank, Martha Nussbaum, and Ronald Dworkin, for example, extreme bad luck can befall individuals no matter what they know or do. By redefining luck as a psychological phenomenon (rather than as a constitutive principle of the world), this article challenges the contemporary consensus. My approach to luck arises out of my engagement with the political thought of Thucydides. Whereas influential interpreters present Thucydides as a witness to the crushing power of bad luck, and whereas they criticize Thucydides’ Pericles for being insufficiently deferential to luck, I revisit and defend Pericles’ skeptical and psychological approach to luck, and I argue that Thucydides shares this approach, at least in the main. The pathological intellectual and emotional responses to apparent good or bad luck diagnosed by Pericles in his final speech recur throughout the History and influence the evolution of the whole war. Going beyond Pericles, Thucydides shows that the appeal of luck arises out of a human need to explain, beautify, or lament what is merely natural necessity, haphazard coincidence, or awful suffering.

  • TRENDS: The Geography of Law: Understanding the Origin of State and Federal Redistricting Cases

    Knowing where legal complaints arise can tell us something about them and reveal clues about their conditions of origin. In this paper, we examine the geographic origins of litigation challenging the boundaries of electoral districts—an increasingly salient and prominent source of political conflict. We construct an original dataset of all redistricting cases in state and federal courts nationwide, from 1960 to 2019. We show that redistricting litigation surfaces not just in states where there are regions undergoing rapid population change or that have a greater proportion of aggrieved racial minority groups but also in areas where there is close partisan competition. The filing of redistricting litigation is highly responsive to hypercompetitive political environments, suggesting that parties pursue judicial intervention vigorously when political power hangs in the balance and not simply due to demographic changes associated with decennial population measurement. These findings have important implications for understanding the temporal and spatial dynamics of redistricting politics and the consequences of intense partisan electoral competition in the United States.

  • Epistemic Communities and Public Support for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

    We study how informing the public about the views of international policy experts shapes public support for international cooperation. Using survey experiments, we test whether variation in levels of support among experts with differing types of domain-specific knowledge can shape public support for a recent and politically salient international treaty: the UNFCCC COP21 Paris Climate Agreement. Our results show that the public is, under certain conditions, deferential to the views of experts, with respondents reporting increasingly higher levels of support for the COP21 agreement as support among experts increased. In addition, we provide suggestive evidence that domain-specific expertise matters: When it comes to support for the COP21 agreement, the public is most sensitive to the views of climate scientists, while exposure to the views of international relations and international economics experts have less dramatic and less consistent effects. Despite these results, we find that it is exposing the public to information about opposition to a proposed treaty among members of relevant epistemic communities that has greatest and most consistent effects. Our findings thus provide new insight into the conditions under which epistemic communities can shape public support for particular policy alternatives.

Featured documents

  • Partisan Intensity in Congress: Evidence from Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court Nomination

    Partisan disputes are ubiquitous in Congress. Yet, participation in this bickering varies among legislators. Some eagerly join these fights while others abstain. What explains this variation? Previous research examines this question by studying members’ partisan preferences expressed through votes...

  • Public Opinion, Policy Tools, and the Status Quo

    The method in which a government policy is delivered—for example, as a tax break rather than a direct payment—could potentially have significant implications for how the public views that policy. This is an especially important consideration given the importance of indirect policy approaches like...

  • Discrimination, Genocide, and Politicide

    The first generation of genocide scholars emphasized the role of discrimination in the onset of genocide and politicide. However, second-generation scholars discount such claims and have not found quantitative support for the discrimination hypothesis. We return to first-generation theories linking ...

  • Are Minority and Women Candidates Penalized by Party Politics? Race, Gender, and Access to Party Support

    Racial/ethnic minorities and women continue to be underrepresented in public office in the United States. Here, we evaluate the role of general election political party support for women and minorities in structuring these inequalities, as a key part of general election success is support from...

  • Anti-abortion Policymaking and Women’s Representation

    To what extent and under what conditions do women in elective office lead the way on conservative women’s interests? The few existing studies find that, contrary to most research on women’s descriptive and substantive representation, legislative activity on conservative women’s issues in the United ...

  • Examining the Development of Judicial Independence

    Scholars who examine judicial independence offer various theories regarding its development. Some argue that it serves as a type of insurance for regimes who believe their majority status is in jeopardy. Other scholars argue that insurance theory does not offer an adequate explanation until states...

  • Issue Scales, Information Cues, and the Proximity and Directional Models of Voter Choice

    One of the most important questions in the study of democratic politics centers on how citizens consider issues and candidate positions when choosing whom to support in an election. The proximity and directional theories make fundamentally different predictions about voter behavior and imply...

  • Spinoza’s Liberal Republicanism and the Challenge of Revealed Religion

    Spinoza’s Theologico-Political Treatise is a foundational liberal work whose republican teaching also anticipates today’s communitarian critiques. Those critiques reopen the Treatise’s guiding question of whether politics must be grounded in a religious teaching, and they compel us to reconsider...

  • Filling Pews and Voting Booths

    Declines in religious affiliation and church attendance in the United States have been well-documented, which political scientists often attribute to the prominence of the Religious Right in American politics. These scholars posit that the politicization of religion deters religious participation,...

  • Locke on Equality

    Scholars overlook that Locke has two distinct concepts of equality entrenched in his political theory. By recovering the centrality of natural law in Locke, these two concepts of equality can be easily identified. The first I call “natural equality,” which includes every human being regardless of...

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