Alumna’s book examines political theory across philosophical traditions

Jackie VieceliA new book written by Ripon College alumna Jacqueline Vieceli ’74 explores a sample of Western and non-Western thinkers’ positions on key questions of normative political philosophy en route to presenting a new approach to political theory.

“A Philosophy of Global Pluralism: A Multicultural Approach to Political Theory” is the first book by Vieceli, and as a launching-off point she constructs a powerful counter to Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations thesis of a post-Cold War new world order.

“Huntington argued that the West has had historical experiences which provide values concerning democracy and human rights that other civilizations do not have,” Vieceli says. “In my studies, I have found that there are debates not only between members of different traditions, but perhaps even more among the members of each tradition. Therefore, one can find both humanistic values and anti-humanistic values held by thinkers in all philosophical traditions.”

In her book, Vieceli examines the views of a sampling of thinkers from Confucian, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, African and Western traditions across eight major issues in political philosophy.

She finds that by engaging in dialogue with other cultural traditions, we can bring a superior understanding of others and lead to an increase in global understanding. “By doing this, one can challenge stereotypes which can lead to prejudice, discrimination or even formulating mistaken foreign policies because of assumptions,” she says.

Vieceli is a professor in the Department of Government at Minnesota State University. Her book was published in January 2013 by Edwin Mellen Press, and Vieceli says her professors at Ripon College have a lot to do with the ideas expressed in it.

Vieceli majored in philosophy and political science at Ripon College. Her adviser, Dr. Robert “Spud” Hannaford, along with Dr. Seale Doss, Dr. William E. Tyree and Dr. Vance Cope-Kasten, taught her to love philosophy. In the political science department, she was taught to care about the liberation of all people. She thanks Dr. Seth Singleton, who opened her mind to African and Chinese political thinkers.

“They always inspired me to try to be a better human being,” Vieceli says.

According to Vieceli, she is among very few scholars employing a multicultural approach to political theory. She is now in the early stages of a follow-up project to create a reader in political philosophy using Western and non-Western material. She hopes that colleagues who want to teach political philosophy from a comparative perspective will soon have a collection of teaching material from which to draw.

“I hope that those who teach or write on political philosophy will pay more attention to studying thinkers who are not from the West, as well as the ones we traditionally study,” she says.

-Tsering Yangchen ’14
Madison, Wis.

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