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Just HierarchyWhy Social Hierarchies Matter in China and the Rest of the World$
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Daniel Bell and Wang Pei

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691200897

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691200897.001.0001

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Just Hierarchy between States

Just Hierarchy between States

On the Need for Reciprocity

(p.106) 3 Just Hierarchy between States
Just Hierarchy

Daniel A. Bell

Wang Pei

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses relations between states. Whereas relations between rulers and citizens in countries should be characterized first and foremost by actions that benefit the citizens, relations between countries need to be mutually beneficial for both countries. Notwithstanding lip service paid to the ideal of equality between sovereign states in the modern world, this chapter argues that hierarchy between powerful and weaker states is the norm in international relations. Such hierarchical relations can be justified if they benefit both powerful and weaker states. The chapter draws on a mixture of philosophy and history to argue that justifiable hierarchical relations can be characterized by either weak reciprocity, with both countries deriving instrumental benefits from hierarchical relations, or strong reciprocity, with decision makers in stronger and weaker states thinking of their relations from the perspective of both states—not just from the perspective of their own state. Strong reciprocity is more difficult to achieve, but it is more stable and long lasting than weak reciprocity. In terms of the future, the chapter illustrates that an ideal of “one world, two hierarchical systems” may be appropriate for future forms of global order.

Keywords:   just hierarchy, states, international relations, weak reciprocity, strong reciprocity, global order

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