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Volume #16, Number #1

Published in June, 2012

One of the well-known debates in International Relations is between rationalism and constructivism, in which rationalism submits that the actions of states observe “the logic of consequentialism”while constructivism “the logic of appropriateness”. In recent years a branch of constructivism attempts to appropriate Habermas’s theory of communicative action and argues that the actions of states follow a third logic, the “logic of truth seeking or arguing,” which takes the form of communicative action. These constructivists believes that the theory of communicative action can help to illuminate the “micro-mechanism” through which states’ preferences or interests change over the course of interaction, and they argue this change can be caused by “the force of better argument”. This paper aims to explore how the theory of communicative action is appropriated by this branch of constructivism and examine whether communicative actions actually take place in international arena. It further investigates what challenges and queries that this approach may encounter, and then provides an assessment of the achievements and limits of this approach. By so doing this paper aims to show that even though the appropriation of the theory of communicative action by constructivists has produced a new research program, empirical studies suggest that constructivist explanation, which relies on the idea of communicative action, does not overwhelmingly prevail over rationalist explanation, which relies of the idea of strategic action, and constructivist explanations will continue to be beset by rationalist explanations. This leads to the conclusion that since Habermas’s theoretical enterprise is by nature a critical theory, its positivist appropriation in IR is not very productive.

Hsuan-hsiang Lin

This paper will point out that the rise of judicial politics is a new phenomenon in Taiwan. However, unlike law scholars who characterize Taiwan’s Constitutional Court justices as Taiwan’s top constitutional reformers, I will contend that the rise of judicial politics is attributable mostly to the judicial reform led by young judges and prosecutors from the bottom of the judicial hierarchy. The main types of judicial politics include investigation on politician’s corruption and vote-buying activities, rampant electoral disputation, and politicians’ use of the law as a political weapon. Two main conditions promoted the rise of judicial politics in Taiwan: one was the judicial-independence reforms pursued by young reform-minded judges and prosecutors; the other was the deficiency of Taiwanese politics, including rampant clientelism and rampant disputations of elections.

Chin-shou Wang

Taiwan’s new MMM legislative electoral system first implemented in 2008 was a sharp departure from the half-century long SNTV system. This paper examines effects of knowledge of the new electoral system on citizens’ decisions to vote or not to vote. Existing literature on voting either assumes that voters are fully aware of the electoral system and thus ignores the effect of knowledge or at best assumes it is an exogenous factor. This study distinguishes itself from other related works in three respects. First, we do not assume that voters are fully aware of the new two-ballot electoral system and make their voting choices accordingly. Instead, we design a set of four survey questions to measure the degree to which citizens understand the new electoral rule. Secondly, instead of summing up the number of correct answers to these survey questions (i.e. the traditional “raw score” approach) , we use a two-parameter item response model to estimate item loadings and then construct a continuous measure of latent knowledge. Thirdly, instead of assuming knowledge is exogenous, we build a two-equation simultaneous probit model to account for the effect of electoral system knowledge on voter turnout.This model is meticulously specified so that it allows for knowledge to be endogenous. We find that knowledge of electoral system is indeed endogenous and, in both SMD and PR ballot voting, higher knowledge of the new MMM system stimulates higher probability of voting after taking into account the endogeneity of knowledge.

Chi Huang, Hung-chung Wang, Chang-chih Lin

In the trajectory of Taiwan’s democratization, the judicial system has long been entangled in the political conflict, and the general public does not seem to trust the judiciary to be independent of political influences. Some folk sayings about the courts reveal the negative stereotypes of vote-buying verdicts; for example, “the courts are dominated by the Kuomintang;” “at the first trial a heavy sentence is passed, at the second trial the sentence is halved, and at the third trial the case is quashed;” “those with good social connections won’t have any problem, but those without connections will have big trouble;” and, “those elected will be let off, but those losing the elections will be imprisoned.” This study investigates the impacts of political factors (including partisanship, judicial procedure, sociopolitical connections, and whether a defendant is elected or not) on three levels of court decisions on vote-buying litigation. In a departure from quantitative analyses in the preceding literature, this research employs a qualitative method. The methodology adopted in this study involves two steps. The first approach involves the use of documentary analyses; we intentionally select eight salient vote-buying cases, and review their court verdicts and news reports in order to inquire whether or not the judiciary is politically biased in its judgments. The second method employs face-to-face intensive interviews with eight legal experts (including three lawyers, one judge, three law professors, and one senior legal journalist), and asks the respondents questions designed to evaluate the political influences on vote-buying lawsuits and to assess this negative public impression of judicial verdicts. Contrary to expectations, the interview findings reveal that the effects of political factors have considerably less of an influence than expected on court decisions. In the conclusion, the key findings are reviewed, and suggestions regarding judicial politics are made for future research.

Ming-hong Sun, Chung-li Wu

Existing legislative theories, which are developed to explain legislative dynamics in the U.S. Congress, presumes the existence of a majority party in a legislature and fails to provide predictions about positive agenda power of a majority under various degree of intra-party homogeneity and inter-party heterogeneity. Offering a theory of legislative majority coalition to explain its positive agenda power and proposal passage in the Taiwanese legislature, where only a single pivot exists, this paper hypothesizes that a majority coalition’s ability to exert its positive agenda power depends on passage costs (e.g., a majority coalition formed by a single party or multiple parties and the size of a majority coalition) and priority of its proposals. We collect all the legislative proposals raised from the second through the sixth term (i.e., 1993-2007) to obtain more robust empirical results and examine the hypotheses derived from our model. Our empirical and qualitative analyses render strong support for all of our hypotheses. Moreover, in contrast to previous empirical findings, we find that divided government does not have any significant impact on government proposals. This finding has profound implications for our understanding of legislative gridlock and the legislative-executive relationship in Taiwan.

Fang-yi Chiou, Zhih-wei Lee