Political Science Now

Liberal Integrity and Foreign Entanglement

Liberal Integrity and Foreign Entanglement

Shmuel Nili, Yale University

My aim in this article is to show that there is distinctive normative value to thinking about a liberal polity as an agent with integrity that can be threatened, paralleling the integrity of an individual person. I argue that the idea of liberal integrity organizes and clarifies important moral intuitions concerning the policies of liberal democracies, especially with regard to their global conduct. This idea provides a novel organizing framework for liberal values that currently seem disparate. It also captures important moral intuitions as to how the tainted histories of actual liberal societies should bear on their global conduct. Finally, this idea explains, in a way that a simple appeal to familiar liberal values arguably cannot, why liberal polities have identity-based moral reasons not to entangle themselves in manifestly illiberal practices beyond their borders—reasons whose significance becomes apparent in scenarios and real-world cases that global political theory overlooks.

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American Political Science Review / Volume 110 / Issue 01 / February 2016, pp 148-159 / Copyright © American Political Science Association 2016