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Title: Reading secrets : do state secrets challenge the idea of the UK as liberal?
Author: Morgan, Lydia Angharad
ISNI:       0000 0004 5920 522X
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2015
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The use of state secrecy by liberal states to obfuscate certain decisions and behaviours has become almost unremarkable in the 21st Century. Intuitively, liberal thought as the champion of open government would be conceptually inimical to state secrecy. Yet there is no settled definition of state secrecy reflecting its actual practice today by states like the UK. Nor is it clear how liberal thought which prime facie values accountability and transparency in political decision making can accommodate state secrecy without inveigling its proponents and citizens. This thesis asks first, how can state secrecy be understood and second, whether there is a tension between state secrecy and liberal thought, and if so, what kind of tension it is. There is no cohesive legal and political theory scholarship on either the concept of state secrets or state secrecy in the UK. Methodologically, this question is at the boundary of political theory and public law. Three elements of this research will produce an original contribution to scholarship. First, the research conceptualises state secrecy through a contextual examination of the practice of state secrecy in the UK. It delineates three distinct ways of understanding state secrecy in the UK: esoteric, operational and efficient. Second, the examination of the spectrum of liberal thought through the classical Lockean, Sidgwickian Utilitarian and Rawlsian political perspectives will suggest the latent elitism in early liberal thought allowed state secrecy to become commonplace. Third, it finds evidence of an inconsistent, but nonetheless evident, tension between state secrecy and liberal thought. Liberal thought's wilful blindness to this contradiction at its centre limits its ability to provide a practical guide to political thought. Examining this problem also provides new questions for liberal political theory.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available