A Pluralist Theory of Political Rights in Times of Stress

70 Pages Posted: 17 May 2005

See all articles by Michel Rosenfeld

Michel Rosenfeld

Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

Date Written: May 1, 2005


Political rights in a democracy can be narrowly defined as largely confined to the right to vote and to be eligible for elective office. Or they can be broadly conceived as encompassing a broad array of civil and even social and economical rights to insure effective participation in the political arena. The nature and scope of political rights also differs depending on whether one adheres to liberalism, which promotes individual self-realization; republicanism, which prioritizes self-government; or communitarianism, which is oriented towards communal solidarity. Furthermore, the optimal array of political rights is likely to vary according to whether a polity is experiencing ordinary times of crisis, of times of stress that fall somewhere between the two.

The article explores the optimal allocation of political rights in times of stress from a pluralist perspective. According to this perspective, political issues within a polity are best understood as conflicts between self and other. In times of stress, though there is no rupture between self and other, their relationship becomes increasingly strained. By examining conflicts that are typically associated with conditions of stress, including hate speech, militant democracy, the war on terror and pacted secession, the article develops contextual approach to political rights best suited to such conditions consistent with a pluralist ethos.

Keywords: human rights, political rights, united nations, political theory

Suggested Citation

Rosenfeld, Michel, A Pluralist Theory of Political Rights in Times of Stress (May 1, 2005). Cardozo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 116. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=724201 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.724201

Michel Rosenfeld (Contact Author)

Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law ( email )

55 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10003
United States
212-790-0234 (Phone)
212-790-0205 (Fax)

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