Mark Warren

Professor

Relevant Degree Programs

 

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2019)
The historical constitution of the obedient subject (2018)

What explains our current norms and practices of political obligation, and how should we account for the more problematic aspects of obedience to political authority? We can answer this question partially through an historical analysis of the processes constitutive of political obedience. This dissertation analyzes two major instances of disobedience that promised to radically revolutionize the political system: the Revolution of the Common Man (1525) and the English Civil Wars (1640s). Early modern, absolutist forms of political obedience emerged in the counter-revolutions that followed. I trace the transformation of the norms of obedience, during that period, from communal promises provided to a local lord through negotiation to individual obedience to political authorities that could be broken only through extraordinary justification. Thus, as the early modern state emerged, it brought forth a completely new form of obedience due from an individual to a state. This new form was engineered in part by political elites in response to the threats to their authority posed by the communal form of political organization, which functioned as sites of entrenched political resistance. In this relationship, the mastery of political authority over the individual is no longer contested, and, due largely to her political isolation, the individual remains socially and politically underequipped to offer resistance to political authorities, even when they turn oppressive. Many modern and even contemporary norms and practices of obedience still reflect these early modern attempts to engender individual discipline. Counterintuitively, when it comes to disobedience and resistance to political authorities, late feudal and early modern subjects of empires and lords were much less constrained, and freer, than the citizens of early-modern and even many modern states well into the twentieth century.

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Talking across boundaries: interracial deliberation (2017)

No abstract available.

The psychology of democratic deliberation : from practice to system (2017)

Accounts of democratic deliberation assume and require citizens who are capable of rational and autonomous cognition. Such individuals are expected to be able to gather, process, and communicate information in such a way that allows them to accurately account for their preferences, including providing reasons for those preferences. The epistemic defense of deliberative democracy suggests that this is possible and that citizens who deliberate can generate good judgments and decisions. In this dissertation, I bring findings from social and political psychology to bear on the question of whether citizens can make good judgments and decisions through democratic deliberation. Data collected over the last five decades casts some doubts over whether they can. However, as I argue, there is good reason to believe that deliberation, despite these challenges, is often superior to alternative approaches to decision making and that, moreover, there are individual practice and institutional design responses that can mitigate the deleterious effects of phenomena that bring about cognitive distortion, bias, and error when citizens deliberate. In the first section of this dissertation, I argue that the epistemic defense of deliberation—including the need for rational, autonomous citizens—is challenged by findings from social and political psychology, but that democratic deliberation remains a possible and superior form of public judgment and decision making. In the second section, I use institutional theory, deliberative systems literature, and findings from psychology to discuss ways of thinking about autonomy and deliberation, and I develop approaches to limiting or overcoming the challenges mentioned in section one. These approaches are rooted in both broader institutional design and deliberative system design and in specific deliberative practices.

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Democracy and silence : rethinking the meanings and significance of silent citizenship in democratic systems (2016)

The full abstract for this thesis is available in the body of the thesis, and will be available when the embargo expires.

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Deliberation in anarchy (2015)

How do cooperative rules and agreements emerge in anarchical situations of political conflict between or within states? This dissertation responds to this question by developing an innovative theory of the role that deliberation plays in the emergence of rule-based cooperation under anarchy. “Deliberation” refers to a kind of political talk in which participants attempt to persuade each other on the basis of convincing reasons. Deliberation promises to be an important vehicle through which political opponents make and follow cooperative rules together. The problem, however, is that because deliberation has primarily been studied in the context of strong, liberal-democratic states, we do not yet have an adequate understanding of how it can be effective under more anarchical conditions. Without the security provided by strong institutions and relatively thick “lifeworlds” of shared culture and norms, deliberative responses to politics are more likely to be scuttled by mistrust and mutual suspicion.The theory developed here addresses this challenge by highlighting and investigating the often-overlooked relational effects of deliberation. Deliberation is not just about the content of the reasons political opponents offer one another. It is also about the fact that they are offering reasons at all, and about what that implies for the kind of actions they can expect from each other. Most importantly, deliberation can be a way for interlocutors to demonstrate their accountability to each other: their willingness to uphold, and count on others to uphold, shared standards of behaviour. In this way deliberation can help to generate the bonds of trust and mutually acknowledged commitment that political opponents need in order to act on shared rules and understandings. In developing this theory, the dissertation offers new conceptual tools for understanding how productive politics, based on negotiation, persuasion, and shared rules, can get a toehold even under difficult conditions.

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Justice and inclusion in global politics : victim representation and the International Criminal Court (2015)

There are widespread concerns that those people who ought to benefit from global governance are instead ignored, disempowered or harmed by it. Central to these concerns, this dissertation argues, is the principle of inclusion. Bringing together normative and empirical inquiry, this dissertation explains why inclusion matters and how it might be achieved in global governance, and uses this approach to assess the oft-criticized relationship between the International Criminal Court (ICC) and victims of international crimes. Inclusion is crucial for both justice and democratic legitimacy. Inclusion can empower constituencies to address injustices they face and negotiate what justice should entail. Inclusion is also necessary to address democratic deficits in global governance, when constituencies are excluded from decision-making processes that significantly affect them. The complexity and large scale of global governance make inclusion difficult to conceptualize and promote. Building on democratic theory, this dissertation proposes the framework of mediated inclusion, which identifies the key activities of representation and communication needed for constituencies to understand and influence decision-making. It then engages with International Relations scholarship to identify actors, institutional design features and contexts that can promote or frustrate the inclusion of the intended beneficiaries of global governance. This analysis reveals both persistent challenges and positive trends in opportunities for inclusion at international organizations. These insights are used to assess the inclusion of victims in the creation and operations of the ICC. This analysis draws on over 100 interviews with ICC staff, state officials and civil society members, as well as focus groups with survivors of violence in Uganda and Kenya. Close examination of negotiations to create the ICC reveals how advocates for victims’ rights achieved a strong legal framework for victim inclusion. Case studies of the ICC’s interventions in Uganda and Kenya evaluate diverse advocates for victims, and identify opportunities and limitations for victim inclusion in judicial, bureaucratic and diplomatic decision-making sites. Contributing to debates on global democracy, transnational advocacy, international organization design and international criminal justice, this dissertation shows how the principle of inclusion can be used to critically assess global governance and to create institutions that are more legitimate and just.

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Collective responsibility and democratic practice (2014)

Questions of responsibility lie at the very heart of most social and political controversies. Responsibility attribution becomes rather complicated when it comes to social activities, in which members of a group share agency in collective actions or practices, even though these members may not participate directly in the outcome of such actions and the contribution of any single member to that outcome is negligible. The general tendency to individualize and to psychologize human actions makes it difficult to understand how collectives, such as companies, families and nations, can or should take responsibility for their actions. Philosophical attempts have been made to make sense of the concept of collective responsibility. Following these philosophers, I intend to develop some guiding principles for investigating collective responsibility and to explain how these principles reshape our general understanding of responsibility and public life. These principles of understanding collective responsibility have the potential to affect the practice of collective decisions making. Political decision-making by citizen participants in a democratic process is taken as a paradigm case of collective actions. I will defend a deliberative model of democratic practice as the most promising one in assisting citizen participants in recognizing that they will be invested with shared responsibility of the political community. A deliberative model not only helps citizen participants gain deliberative capacity and become more responsive to reasons, it also helps participants to see the shared nature of collective decisions.

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Future publics : long-term thinking and farsighted action in democratic systems (2013)

Many scholars have argued that democracies cannot effectively address long-term problems because of the political dynamics of short electoral cycles, the immediate concerns of voters, the influence of powerful actors with dominant short-term interests, or the political impotence of future persons who do not yet exist. This dissertation explores and challenges these claims. I argue that democracy — in both theory and practice — can help encourage longer-term thinking and make collectively intentional farsighted actions possible. Much of what we know about the nature of intertemporal relations comes from theories of intergenerational justice. A justice-based approach is intuitively appealing because claims of justice are typically granted priority over claims of other types. Unlike political agreements, principles of justice cannot be legitimately ignored or abandoned in response to changing preferences or partisan motives. Nevertheless, I argue that we need to think not only about our justice-based obligations to the future but also about how the actions of individuals and groups can be coordinated such that collectively-desirable long-term objectives can be identified, specified, and achieved. Democracy is not just a system for registering existing views and preferences; it is also a means of shaping preferences and changing the expectations of individuals and groups. I argue that multilayered democratic systems that are comprised of both electoral and extra-electoral institutions, can help mitigate many of the problems identified by those who have argued that democracies are, by nature, short-sighted. At the large scale, democratic practices such as public deliberation make it possible for a society to talk to itself about what it is doing and where it wants to go. At the small scale, deliberation can help encourage longer-term thinking by creating conditions that favour other-regarding positions, including those that take into consideration the potential interests of future-others. Under certain conditions, democracies can create political imperatives that reward long-term thinking and turn short-term positions into political liabilities. While there are features of democratic systems that create and nurture short-term imperatives, democracies are not without resources for overcoming these challenges.

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Politicizing deliberative democracy : strategic speech in deliberative systems (2013)

When using language to resolve conflicts and make decisions, people access democratic resources inherent in the practice of communication. Making a claim implicitly appeals to another’s capacity to agree to that claim autonomously—without being coerced or bought, and based on considerations he or she takes to be valid. Deliberative democracy describes political arrangements that harness this potential as the basis for collective decision-making. To the extent that it empowers individuals, however, actors have incentives to use language strategically to influence the very judgments deliberative democrats hope will be governed by carefully weighed reasons. In political contexts, language is often a tool for political ends, bypassing rather than engaging capacities for autonomous judgment. Deliberative democratic theories respond mostly by imposing the normative condition that deliberative speech should not be strategic. But the cost of this normative line is to depoliticize the theory, since it fails to engage much—even most—of the universe of speech in politics. Where democratic institutions channel politics—characterized by conflict and competition—into communication, we should expect speech to be strategic. Yet it is still possible for such speech to underwrite democratic autonomy. To establish a better understanding of strategic speech and its implications for democracy, I develop an analytic framework for conceptualizing the force of language. Under the model of communicative influence, the democratic implications of strategic language use depend not on intentions, but on how language produces pragmatic consequences, shaping the processes by which actors reason towards judgment and action. The model generates propositions about what common features of political communication—narratives, loaded words, and exaggeration, among others—entail for the quality of political judgments. It also systematizes the specific anti-democratic hazards strategic speech that result from the frame-based, subject-based, and institutional ecologies of discourse that condition communicative influence. A democratic theory with analytic capacity around strategic speech can identify institutional interventions into these ecologies that promote autonomous judgment by targeting these specific hazards of strategic speech, without trying to work against the incentives and motivations that make problems political. The result is a politicized theory of deliberative democracy.

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The democratic legitimacy of 'self-appointed' representatives (2010)

Standard accounts of democratic representation involve both the authorization of a representative by election, and the accountability of elected officials to their constituents for their performance in office. Yet actors such as Oxfam, Amnesty International, and the musician Bono, who make representative claims outside of formal representative institutions – who “self-appoint” – are an increasingly important part of today’s political landscape. On most standard accounts of democratic representation, the absence of formal authorization and accountability renders such activities non-democratic, regardless of any good achieved. Yet the case for their credentials is rooted in a norm that is at the heart of most contemporary democratic theories: those potentially affected by a collective decision should have some say in making that decision. From an empirical perspective, there is a need for a theory of representation that will identify the types of self-appointed representatives that, although unelected, comprise growing and important parts of our political landscape. From an analytic perspective, there is a pressing need for criteria that will allow us to distinguish legitimate from illegitimate claims of self-appointed representatives. To develop the theory required, I develop a general account of representation that identifies representative relationships apart from electoral representation. Because this framework interrupts the close association of representation with elections, we are able to conceptualize actors who claim to represent by self-appointment as representatives, and perhaps even as democratic ones. Furthermore, viewing representation separately from electoral institutions expands our understanding of constituency to include peoples who do not neatly fall within the boundaries of electoral districts but who are affected by their law and policy. In fact, this is where the potentially democratic credentials of self-appointed representation are to be found: in its ability to identify and mobilize affected constituencies around claims of representation. I also conceptualize non-electoral mechanisms of authorization and accountability that may be used to guide, inform, and sanction the self-appointed representative. Understanding the concepts of representation and constituency in this fluid way is a necessary step in developing a democratic theory that is appropriate to the complex, globalizing, pluralistic, and highly differentiated societies within which we now live.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Phronesis, deconstruction, and democratic theory : a hybrid interpretive approach to democratic systems (2018)

Although democratic theorists have been searching deeper into context and sharedmeaning, which shape and validate certain practices as more or less democratic answers toproblems in democratic political systems, there has been little serious interest among them toconsider more interpretive and practice-centered strategies for research. The main purpose of thispaper is to combine two such strategies, Bent Flyvbjerg’s phronetic social research and JacquesDerrida’s deconstruction, into a hybrid interpretive approach to democratic systems. First, I tracehow contemporary democratic theory up to Mark Warren’s problem-based approach has movedcloser and closer to adopting four common and crucial features of both phronetic anddeconstructive research. Next, and in light of this methodological overlapping, I argue that thelatter two research strategies are indispensable to the study of democratic systems. Here I discusstwo general areas in which such a hybrid interpretive approach would be most effective: inunderstanding how to do what Warren calls “functional sorting” for the sake of democratizingpolitical systems; and in understanding how social movements “function” in democratic systemstoday. The last section deals with some bigger concerns regarding my serious engagement withDerrida. I argue against what has long been the conventional view that distances Derrideandeconstruction from democratic theory by hinting at the democratic project (if not method ortheory) that Derrida was developing, especially in his later years, and the growing recentscholarship around this overlooked development. Moreover, I reconsider Flyvbjerg’s ownrejection of Derrida and demonstrate how phronetic and deconstructive ways of doing researchcan and should, in fact, complement each other. The conclusion reiterates the promise of this (orany other) hybrid interpretive approach for the democratic theorist today.

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Theorizing and assessing deliberative democracy in Korea and China (2016)

A process or event of communication should be both democratic and deliberative to be considered as “deliberative democracy”. An empirical case of deliberative democracy needs to establish a clear understanding of both deliberation and democracy not only to present a deliberative democratic case but to clearly demonstrate how deliberation can contribute to democracy. However, some empirical studies of deliberative democracy in and from South Korea and China interpret deliberative democracy differently, which can confuse readers’ conceptual understanding of “deliberative democracy”. I found two common problems of how the theory is applied and interpreted in the well-known cases from the two countries. The first is the scholars’ assertion that deliberation occurred, when the process was non-deliberative or generally non-deliberative. The second is scholars equating deliberation with democracy. The ambiguity between the two concepts can lead one to expect deliberation to generate democratic effects, even in non-democratic settings. However, non-democratic deliberation takes place in many cases without any democratic effects, which is evident in the cases presented in the given study. A solid theoretical base can provide guidance to an ideal process and help locate shortcomings in a model, which is the reason why empirical studies are in great demand. I hoped to find such guidance in scholarly assessments, yet a plethora of different interpretations in the South Korean and Chinese cases provided little ground to understand what deliberative democracy could possibly mean. In the given study, I attempted to identify and clarify some of the confusion in the studies of deliberative democratic cases from South Korea and China, where many understandings seem to be in play.

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Deepening democracy through constituency formation via 'self-appointed' representative contexts (2014)

Self-appointed representatives may deepen democracy beyond the limits of the standard accounts of representation. For self-appointed representatives to trigger democracy, it must be possible to generate alternative constituencies based on the 'all affected interest principle', that is, those individuals whose interests are affected by collective decisions should have the opportunity to influence those decisions. Likewise, this process of constituency formation, leads to the pluralization of the political subjects of democracy, the pluralization of the temporality of political processes of representation, and the pluralization of the spaces for political infusion, which in turn expand the opportunities for achieving individual self-determination and self-development.

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Between worlds, among stories : a cosmopolitan approach to Iranian political culture (2013)

Literature on Iran’s political culture and future democratic potentials has flourished in the past decade. How does one interpret this growing field and, more widely, a nation’s distinct political identity? Any clear understanding of a distant culture like Iran’s is bound to be influenced by one’s subject position and familiarity with its past, its customs and the disclosure of its people’s self-understandings. Interpretations that seek to go beyond ethnocentricity and Orientalism, therefore, are dependent on the expressions of those who know and breathe the culture. The purpose of this paper is to put forward a method that all interpreters can use to approach Iran’s political culture in order to gain a thorough, shared understanding of it. I argue that an interpretive, hermeneutic methodology is the best approach for such a purpose, with emphasis on the importance of narratology, or an examination of the diverse narratives associated with Iran, its political culture, and its identity. A multifaceted understanding of various narratives—whether political or artistic—serves to sustain a comprehensive grasp of Iran’s political culture for all interpreters, entailing significant consequences for the persistent discussions of the nation’s political future and democratic prospects. A cosmopolitan viewpoint reveals an open-ended political situation in Iran, whose civil society continues to display a capacity for democratic participation.

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Democratic theory and the commons : conceptualizing the relationship between deliberation, publics, and the internet (2013)

I aim to achieve two complementary goals in this paper. The first is to provide a corrective to the unfortunate tendency to insist that the internet’s natural form is a public that underwrites democracy. Rather, the structure of the internet is contingent and any publicness should be understood as enabled by its structural features as a commons. The second goal is a step towards addressing the relative dearth of explicit theorizing about the commons in political science. I adopt a critical approach to understanding technology to make clear that the internet may transform persons and institutions in ways that support democratic properties, but there is a need to challenge common assumptions that any democratic effects of the internet are inherent or directly caused. Many theories of online politics miss the fact that the internet’s structural features suggest that it is better understood as a commons — that is, vulnerable to enclosure and spoilage — than as a public or a democracy. The technological developments of the internet upset the traditional allocative roles of states and markets in reference to physical goods, intangible goods, and the means of production. The internet enables an increase in the scope and scale of the commons paradigm such that the problem of democracy online seems not to be one of too much participation, but too little. I argue that a commons only exists as such as a result of self-management practices and that these practices are only self-management inasmuch as they are democratic. Self-management requires that participants reflect and deliberate, consider others, and enhances the capacities of actors to exercise their autonomy. Furthermore, I clarify that commons and associations are necessary preconditions for the emergence of publics and thus the potential for deliberative democracy. So, democracy requires publics, which require common goods, which require commons self-management; that is, democracy and commons self-management are together always intertwined and democracy itself is an intangible commons.

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Charles Tilly and promoting democracy in the "graveyard of the empires" : interpersonal trust networks, categorical inequalities and autonomous clusters of power in Afghanistan (2012)

This thesis is concerned with illuminating our understanding of the struggles of democracy in Afghanistan through examining some of its obscure, conflicting and neglected dimensions. It utilizes Charles Tilly’s conceptual framework on democratization to postulate that, in order to entrench and sustain the fledgling Afghan democracy and its political institutions, three necessary processes of democratization will have to concurrently take place. These essential dynamics, or alterations as Tilly would like to refer to them, are, in the context of this paper, carving out a political space for, and integrating, the faith-based Civil Society Organizations as the local interpersonal trust networks; insulating public politics from gender-based categorical inequalities; and, de-warlordizing the Afghan politics as a way of decreasing the autonomy of these centres of power. The normative perspective underlying this thesis is that democracy promotion could work in Afghanistan and certain adjustments, mainly Tilly’s alterations, could create conditions that would be conducive to the promotion of democracy in the country.

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Progressive expression of anger : communicative anger in contexts of counterpublics (2012)

This paper investigates Audre Lord’s intuitive claim that anger is a progressive emotion, developing the theoretical context that underwrites this critical insight. Drawing on Martha Nussbaum’s work on emotions, the paper argues that anger is a cognitive and evaluative emotion, containing assertoric propositions which are amenable to discourse. Beginning form the cognitivist view of emotions, the normative grammar of a progressive expression of anger is brought into the preview of Jürgen Habermas’ discourse ethics. Despite the strategic nature of anger as an assertion of particularistic grievance, the work of Arash Abizadeh expands communicative action to encompass speech acts with perlocutionary aims, repositioning the propositional content of anger as the motivationally efficacious component of discursive engagement. This however is only achieved within the bounded space of institutions nurturing of civic engagement through the medium of talk. The later part of the paper develops the dialectic between the institutional space of the public sphere and that of its counterpublics, where diffuse experiences of anger are conditioned and refined by the plurality of perspectives comprising counterpublics for the purpose of therapeutic grievance airing, identity confirming discourse, and the dialogical development of political interests.

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Cruelty and you : the discipline of great suffering in Nietzsche's philosophy of agency (2011)

The concept of cruelty in Nietzsche’s thought does not in actuality speak to malice or violence,rather it refers to a disposition to self and world that we must adopt in order to most effectively organize our capacities of agency. Nietzsche locates our profound need to situate ourselves interpretatively against a world characterized by meaninglessness as the source of agency, in so doing, we provide a build a frame within which our worldly actions can be infused with meaning, and thereby derive a sense of ontological security. Contemporary interpretations, Nietzsche charges, actually frustrate our meaningful exercise of agency insofar as the sense of security theyengender is the product of interpretative avoidance of, rather than engagement with, the ‘real’ world, marked as it is by the presence of flux, change, death, and suffering. Against these interpretations, Nietzsche asserts that we must be cruel to ourselves, adopting more realistic accounts of the world, and deriving our certainty from an ethic of challenge whereby we attempt to assert ourselves against the world. By recognizing constraint as the chief condition for freedom, Nietzsche suggests that we can adopt an attitude towards ourselves and the world characterized by self-discipline. In so doing, we can situate the products of our interpretive activity as the grounds for all value, and work to hold ourselves accountable to self-imposed standards that most permit the confluence of self-certainty in, and creative engagement with, the world. Such an interpretation offers greater purchase on contemporary political and ethical concernsthan readings of Nietzsche as an aristocratic radicalist, valuing the creation of higher men at the expense of the great majority of mankind. Instead, Nietzsche in this reading expresses a deepconcern for creating better people in general. In this regard, Nietzsche’s philosophy of agency,and its close relationship to cruelty, can be deployed to interrogate contemporary interpretations and ethical commitments that may be hindering our ability as a culture to promote the meaningful self-experience of agency, and thus, enjoy both freedom and autonomy inNietzsche’s terms.

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