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Unformatted text preview: policy. But, as this article will argue, the attribution of state responsibility contributes toward the undermining of those rights in a number of ways. What is agency, and why is it so important for civil life? The concept of agency has been a part of' sociology since Max Weber's analyses of it (Weber, 1964: 87-157). In the past 15 years, it has found its way into the discipline of International Relations as well, specifically through the works of Alexander Wendt (Wendt, 1987) who has generally followed the debates in sociology that focus on agency and structure. The debate in International Relations parallels that between Weber from Marx - are individual, goal seeking persons or social and political structures more important in understanding human interaction? In International Relations, the question has been posed as -- are individual, goal seeking states or the structure of the international system more important in understanding the outcomes of international political interaction? While drastically simplified, this question captures the debate in the social sciences, including International Relations, concerning the question of agency. The notions of agency that underlie the arguments of' this article, however, are drawn more from political philosophy than from the sociological literature. More specifically, my notion of' agency draws on three political philosophers. Hannah Arendt has argued that action defines the human person in the political realm, that without the ability to remake the web of social and political relations that action provides there can be no separate sphere defined as the political (Arendt, 1958). Charles Taylor has also placed agency at the center of his attempts to understand the political. He has argued persuasively that human agency is primarily the ability to interpret the self's actions in a meaningful way, i.e. a self- interpretation that cannot be reduced to mere biological desire (Taylor, 1985). Richard Flath man's analyses of liberalism rely on a form of agency in his argument that liberalism requires individuals who are able to resist the encroachments of normalization and institutionalization as they assert themselves through their actions, words and thoughts (Flath man,...
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This document was uploaded on 11/20/2013.
- Fall '13