Category Archives: Volume 6, no. 1 (2011)

Northern Steps of EU Enlargement: The Impact of “Cohesion” Policies on Iceland’s Accession Process

This paper focuses on the EU accession process of Iceland, reading the latest northern steps of EU enlargement under a “cohesion” perspective, i.e., through the lens of the cohesion “theory”, namely the method resulting from interactions of the general principles of subsidiarity and cooperation or partnership. From the Mediterranean to the Arctic, the territorial dimension of cohesion policies, as grounded in different EU policies, plays different roles and meets a wide range of economic and social needs. By implementing Nordicum-Mediterraneum analogies, a cohesion-minded EU enlargement approach requires the overall reframing of territorial-based policies and a better allocation of shared responsibilities at the more efficient level of governance.

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Giambattista Vico – Heimspeki forsjónarinnar

Lán í óláni – þannig mætti lýsa æviferli Vicos. En einnig má halda því fram að sagan af slysinu sem sögumaður varð fyrir sem barn geymi kjarnann í heimspeki hans því inntakinu í Hinum nýju vísindum má lýsa sem nokkuð svipuðu: Í gegnum söguna og öll þau skakkaföll sem hún þekkir er að verki guðleg forsjón sem ljær henni merkingu og – a.m.k. tímabundinn – tilgang. Heimspeki Vicos mætti því lýsa sem heimspeki forsjónarinnar.

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Rhetorical Strategies in Legal Argumentation. Some remarks on the recent decisions of the Portuguese Tribunal Constitucional and the Italian Corte Costituzionale on same-sex marriage

Legal argumentation is usually considered the more formal (or, at least, formalistic) kind of practical argumentation, thanks to the long tradition of “legal syllogism” as its formal instrument, but also to its legal restraint (the formalistic aspect). Yet, in arguments such as those used, for example, by high courts in their justifications, we may find not only strict formalism and adherence to the letter of the law, but also the attempt to resolve differences of opinion and conflicts of interest, and perhaps also the rhetorical attempt to persuade the legal community, the legislator or even public opinion of the soundness of the court’s decision. But there could be more than that.

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Discourse Ethics beyond Apel and Habermas. A Realistic Relaunch

Karl-Otto Apel,  not Jürgen Habermas (as is often wrongly supposed) is the philosophical originator of discourse ethics (“Diskursethik”).The central contention of a discourse ethics, according to Apel’s lectures in the mid-sixties, is that some necessary presuppositions of discourse have universally valid moral content, or at least some content that is morally relevant, i.e. relevant for outlining a morality the principles of which have unassailable rational credentials. If any such presuppositions can be identified as governing the practice of rational argumentation, then for any interlocutor’s communicative intention in a debate, waiving such presuppositions will clash with the construal of that debate as rationally meaningful debate, since it involves the interlocutor in a kind of inconsistency that Apel (like Habermas), drawing on speech-act theory, conceptualizes as a “performative self-contradiction”.

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Olof Palme: One Life, Many Readings

The analysis of Olof Palme’s politics and of his legacy in Swedish Social Democracy has been somewhat “frozen” due to two uncommon circumstances. Firstly, there has been his violent death, which makes it uneasy for commentators to express any detached judgement. Secondly, there has been a kind of sin of omission; that is to say, in looking at his figure, right-wing as well as left-wing politicians and intellectuals have recalled the man – whose biography is undoubtedly a success story – rather than discussing his contribution to national history and to the Social Democratic movement.

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Die Versprachlichung des Sakralen: The Transformation of the Authority of the Sacred into Secular Political Deliberation in Habermas’ Theory of Communicative Action

Habermas claims in connection with his development of the theory of communicative action that the sacred is transformed in a positive way and can take the form of free deliberation in society, the so-called Versprachlichung des Sakralen. The thesis is that the authority which could be found in religion and which is of fundamental significance for the integration of pre-modern societies is taken over by modern societies in forms of deliberation. Habermas develops his thesis in a discussion of Durkheim’s religious-sociological considerations. Habermas presents his thesis about the linguistic transformation of the sacred as a harmonious theory of secularization. However, if we follow Weber in his religious-sociological considerations of modernity, we reach a tragic theory of secularization that poses the real problem that modernity’s connection to the sacred has been dissolved.

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H. Beale et al., Cases, Materials and Texts on Contract Law, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2010); and T. K. Graziano, Comparative Contract Law: Cases, Materials and Exercises (Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009)

Nordicum-Mediterraneum may seem an odd forum for a review essay on contract law casebooks; but these are no standard classroom texts. In contrast to the traditional research and education in each country of studying only the private law of the provincial legal system, each of these texts approaches contract law from a comparative and European perspective.

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The Deficit Model and the Forgotten Moral Values

The deficit model explains the general public’s negative attitudes towards science and/or certain scientific applications with the public’s scientific ignorance. The deficit model is commonly criticized for oversimplifying the connection between scientific knowledge and attitudes. Other relevant factors – such as ideology, social identity, trust, culture, and worldviews – should be taken into consideration to a greater extent. We argue that explanations based on the proposed factors sometimes implicitly reintroduce the deficit model type of thinking. The strength of the factors is that they broaden the explanations to concern moral issues. We analyse two central argument types of GMO discussion, and show the central role of moral values in them. Thus, as long as arguments are seen to affect the attitudes of the general public, the role of moral values should be made explicit in the explanations concerning their attitudes.

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Emergence of a new paradigm: Towards a post-crisis cosmopolitanism

This paper will examine the paradoxes of the “post-crisis” situation in its being: (a) an aggravation of critical tensions leading to increased economic, social and environmental problems; and (b) the sign of a paradigm shift towards new ethical politics. On the basis of some possible explanations of the causalities of the crisis, the paper will give a general interpretation of some of the most urgent dilemmas arising from the recent financial crisis.

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Cultural Diversity and the Shared Premises Requirement

The legitimacy and stability of the political order are important aspects of a just social structure. Political liberals sometimes claim that a polity is legitimate and stable when it is based on shared views or premises, or reasons that all citizens can accept. In political debates about the shape of the common polity, this could mean that citizens have a moral duty to present premises that they take to be shared in the relevant sense.

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Enhancing Social Responsibility within Global Supply Chains: Is Legal Regulation the Optimal Solution?

As the globalization intensifies and the scope of cross-border business activities grows, it becomes difficult to subject internationally operating businesses to a national regulation. Thus the states are losing the power and ability to safeguard socially related concerns. Simultaneously, western companies being pressed by consumers to provide high quality but cheap goods, use the possibility to outsource some or all of their operations (primarily manufacturing) to developing countries in order to lower their costs. There they employ cheap labor and take advantage of low regulatory standards while relying on the difficulties of cross-border legal enforcement.

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Arne Jönsson, Valborg Lindgärde, Elisabet Göransson (eds.), Wår Lärda Skalde-Fru Sophia Elisabeth Brenner och hennes tid (Ängelholm: Skåneförlaget, 2011)

The poetess Sophia Elisabeth Brenner (Stockholm, 1659-1730) is likely to be a household name with a readership familiar with the fictive universe of the contemporary Swedish literary scholar and novelist Carina Burman. At the centre of Burman’s second novel Den tionde Sånggudinnan (1996) stands in fact the fictionalised life of Brenner.

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Pia Guldager and Jane Hjar Petersen (eds.), Meetings of cultures in the Black Sea region. Between conflict and coexistence, (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2008)

The meetings of cultures in the Black Sea region was the subject of the seventh international conference in Black Sea Studies, held in January 2006 by the Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre.

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Francesco Giacomantonio, Introduzione al pensiero politico di Habermas. Il dialogo della ragione dilagante (Milano-Udine: Mimesis, 2010)

We live in an age of crisis. The Enlightenment faith in reason, method, and comprehensive synthesis had filled modernity with pride, hopefulness, and “grand theories” (16). In recent times, this faith seems to have vanished, analogously to what had already happened in Europe during the 1930s (17-8). One of the clearest indications of this state of crisis is the recurrent use of the prefix “post-” in a variety of characterisations of the present: “post-ideological, post-philosophical, post-modern, post-metaphysical, post-human, post-Fordist, post-democratic, etc.” (11). Indeed, during the last four decades, overarching philosophical and scientific worldviews have themselves been regarded as ill-fated. We live somehow in a post-rational world.

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Giulio Santagata, Il braccio destro. Quindici anni di politica con Romano Prodi (Bologna: Pendragon, 2010)

“Why do Italians vote for Berlusconi?” This is a question that I have never been asked in my native country, Italy. On the contrary, in my fifteen-year-long experience as an academic émigré, I have been questioned about this issue on countless occasions–indeed since the very first day of Silvio Berlusconi’s first government.

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Maria Moog-Grünewald (ed.), Brill‘s New Pauly. Supplements 4. The Reception of Myth and Mythology (Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2010)

Pauly’s Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft is an internationally renowned multi-volume encyclopaedia of classical history and classical culture developed in the decades between 1839 and 1980 by a long string of accomplished scholars and researchers.

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G. Alfredsson, T. Koivurova (eds. in chief), D. Leary, N. Loukacheva (spec. eds.), The Yearbook of Polar Law (Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2010)

The Yearbook of Polar Law was launched in 2009 with the second volume following in 2010 and a third anticipated in Fall 2011. The original volume was launched on the back of the Polar Law Symposium organised by the United Nations University-Institute of Advance Studies and held at the University of Akureyri in September 2008 corresponding with the launch of a new masters programme in Polar Law at that university.

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Natalia Loukacheva (ed.), Polar Law Textbook (Copenhagen: Nordic Council of Ministers, 2010)

This edited collection of thought-provoking essays has its origins in the Polar Law Masters programme at the University of Akureyri, Iceland. The programme brought together scholars in Arctic and Antarctic affairs from around the World to share their pioneering research with one another (through the Annual Polar Law Symposium and the Yearbook of Polar Law) and with the next generation of scholars, practitioners and civil society actors.

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Felice Vinci, Omero nel Baltico. Le origini nordiche dell’Odissea e dell’Iliade (5th edition; Rome: Palombi Editori, 2009)

I heard about Felice Vinci’s book for the first time in 2001. At that time I was starting my scholarly researches in Finnish art and I found it most intriguing to be introduced to the unconventional theories on classical mythology of a professional engineer, who proposed as of the 1990s a new approach to Homer’s epics. According to Vinci, the origins of the Iliad and the Odyssey are to be retrieved in the Northern European countries, and specifically on the Baltic coasts. I must confess that I was sceptical at the beginning. Then, I read his book and began to appreciate the quality of his arguments.

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Michelle Facos, Symbolist Art in Context (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009)

Michelle Facos is professor of art history at Indiana University. She is an expert in 19th-century European art, especially Scandinavian. I have been following Facos’ studies since 2005, when I started my Ph.D. research in Finnish art. Her book Nationalism and the Nordic Imagination: Swedish Painting in the 1890s (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998) led me through Swedish art and National Romanticism in Northern countries. In her new book, Facos explores Symbolist art within several contexts, with a modern approach to the study of this influential movement.

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La Costituzione Islandese: storia ed evoluzione

“La Costituzione Islandese: storia ed evoluzione” is a degree thesis defended on 15th July 2009 by Fabio Quartino under the supervision of Prof. Andrea Canepa of the University of Genoa, Italy. It offers an extensive overview of Icelandic history aimed at finding out the roots of the nation’s constitutional order, which is currently in the process of being revised by the first ever elected constitutional assembly in the life of the country. Fabio Quartino’s work wishes to be a source of useful information for Italian-speaking scholars who have an interest in Iceland’s constitutional history and may not have access to comprehensive overviews in their native tongue.

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Reflections on the economic crisis one year on: an interview with Huginn Freyr Þorsteinsson

The editor-in-chief of Nordicum-Mediterraneum interviewed Huginn Freyr Þorsteinsson, Political Advisor to the current Icelandic Minister of Finance, on the international economic crisis exploded in 2008 and its troublesome implications for Iceland, to which was devoted a special section in the 2010 issue of the journal. Given the left-wing composition of the current parliamentary majority and the affiliation of the members of the governing cabinet, questions were asked whilst keeping in mind the traditional aims, policies and interpretations of the political left.

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