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Arguing for Independence: Evidence, Risks and the Wicked Issues (Viewpoints) [Paperback]

Stephen Maxwell
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Book Description

20 Sep 2012 Viewpoints
Independence: a nation's right to effective government by its people for its people
Evidence: interpretation of facts
Risk: likelihood that outcomes will not be as predicted
Wicked issues: problems perceived to be resistant to resolution

What sorts of arguments and evidence should carry the most weight in assessing the case for – and against – Scottish independence? Given the complexity of the question and the range of the possible consequences, can either side in the argument pretend to certainty, or must we simply be satisfied with probability or even plausibility? Are there criteria for sifting the competing claims and counter-claims and arriving at a rational decision on Scotland's future?

In Arguing for Independence author Stephen Maxwell opens with a chapter on Ways of Arguing before exploring the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments for independence under six main headings:
the democratic case
the economic case
the social case
the international case
the cultural case
the environmental case
He also provides his own concise answers to some of the most frequent 'Aye but' responses to the case for independence.

By offering an assessment of the case for independence across all its dimensions, Arguing for Independence fills a long-standing gap in Scotland's political bookshelf as we enter a new and critical phase in the debate on Scotland's political future.

Frequently Bought Together

Arguing for Independence: Evidence, Risks and the Wicked Issues (Viewpoints) + Scottish Independence: Weighing up the Economics + Blossom: What Scotland Needs to Flourish (Viewpoints)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Luath Press Ltd (20 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908373334
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908373335
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.4 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 174,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description


This is a book of profound thought, intelligence and wit. --Scots Independent

Maxwell has done his homework assiduously. The key historical, social science and political sources on the subject have been marshalled with skill and to good effect. But his is by no means an arcane, scholarly tome accessible only to the academic few. The author writes in coherent and lucid prose so even complex economic arguments can be readily understood and absorbed. --The Herald

About the Author

STEPHEN MAXWELL was born in Edinburgh in 1942 to a Scottish medical family. He grew up in Yorkshire and was educated there before winning a scholarship to St John's College Cambridge, where he read Moral Sciences. This was followed by three years at the London School of Economics studying International Politics. Attracted by stirrings of Scottish Nationalism, he joined the London branch of the SNP in 1967. He worked as a research associate for the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London and a Lecturer in International Affairs at the University of Sussex. In 1970 he returned to Scotland as Chatham House Research Felow at the University of Edinburgh. He was a frequent contributor to the cultural and political journals from Scottish International Review through Question to Radical Scotland, which fertilised the Scottish debate from the 1970s tot he 1990s. From 1973 to 1978 he was the SNP's National Press Officer and was director of the SNP's 1979 campaign in the Scottish Assembly Referendum. He was an SNP councillor on Lothian Regional Council 1975–78 before serving as SNP Vice Chair, successively for Publicity, Policy and Local Government. From the mid-1980s, he worked in the voluntary sector, initially with Scottish Education and Action for Development (SEAD) and then for the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO). He retired in 2009. He was the founding cair of a Scottish charitable company which today provides support to enable six hundred vulnerable people to live in the community. He contributed to numerous collections of essays on Scotland's future, most recently The Modern SNP: from Protest to Power (ed Hassan, EUP, 2009), Nation in a State (ed Brown, Ten Book Press, 2007) and A Nation Again (ed Henderson Scott, Luath Press, 2011).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, really informative 22 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you are one of the many thousands who have questions about the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence then this is the book for you. Laying out the key points and answering the key questions without the sensationalism and rhetoric of the UK media. A must for anyone who cares about Scotland's future.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very thoughtful read 8 Aug 2013
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An informative and impassioned look at the possibilities of Scottish independence, a must read in the run up to next year's referendum
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arguing for Independence 12 Jun 2013
By morag
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book deals with issues re-Scottish Independence and was recommended to me. I did enjoy reading it and will re-read many times I'm sure.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking 13 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
So much of the reporting of the debate in the press and broadcast media is shallow, scaremongering stuff. The late Mr Maxwell, presents a strong case for independence but, he also tackles the more serious counterarguments. He is confident enough to acknowledge the validity of some of them. He attempts to put such counterarguments in context and to get a sense of proportion.

For the as-yet uncommitted voter, there are honest arguments here, which respect the reader's intelligence and which are frank about some shortcomings in some of the arguments for independence.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading. 13 Dec 2013
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A well written realistic look at Scotlands future.
A must read by anyone trying to understand the reasons for independence.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stimulating 20 May 2014
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At this time of big questions this book by Stephen Maxwell provides and excellent examination of the issues. He discusses the pros and cons of Independance and this certainly helped me find my way through some of the arguments and come to a decision about which way to vote. I highly recommend it.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"There are still so many questions that the nationalists have yet to answer."

This refrain and variants upon it are repeated with great frequency by the unionist side of the Independence debate. One hopes that this book will go some way towards providing a detailed, well-researched and positive case for Scottish independence that will force its critics into a long-awaited and substantive debate. Something they have so far been loathe to do.

Maxwell provides a coherent, succinct and well balanced argument in favour of Scottish self-determination, and his case is enhanced by its nuance and caution. This is not a pamphlet chock-full of jingoisitic soundbites and utopian fantasy. Indeed, it highlights areas of potential weakness in the nationalist argument and truly challenges the dogmatic thinking sometimes prevalent of some on the Yes campaign. It's intellectual honesty is its great strength.

It should be said that there are some areas that are underdeveloped, notably Maxwell's Cultural Case for Independence. But, given the author's untimely death prior to publication, this seems a harsh criticism. Its study of the economic, social and political arguments in favour of Scottish independence is truly compelling and, to this reader's mind, highly convincing.

This is a book that begs to be read by all Scots with interest in how their country is to be governed in the future.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read 2 Dec 2012
By stew 24
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A well written and thought provoking book. Answers all the concerns about independence. Well laid out it enables you to pick out what you want reference.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Walking forwards looking backwards
My cousin, Stevie had an outstanding intellect and was an inspiration to me. Being ten years his junior, I was influenced by his thinking and enthusiastically joined the SNP in... Read more
Published 5 months ago by David Maxwell
5.0 out of 5 stars Well balanced and thoroughly researched
I read this to get informed about the Scottish referendum. It was very well balanced and thoroughly researched. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Fiona123
2.0 out of 5 stars TO be fair the title is honest
It is as theathor said an argument for independence, It does not unfortunately address for me the critical issues
These are;
How will we pay for the infrastructure we... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Eric Martin
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but flawed effort to justify Scottish separatism
In this well-written and lucid book, the late Stephen Maxwell presented six cases for Scottish independence: democratic, economic, social, international, cultural and... Read more
Published 6 months ago by William Podmore
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and thought-provoking
A good easy read for those who want to back up their convictions about an independent scotland. Not all plain sailing of course, but it all seems possible according to Maxwell. Read more
Published 7 months ago by ANG
4.0 out of 5 stars HONEST APPRAISAL
A thorough, no-holds-barred review which I would probably have given 5 stars if I had had time to read it again.
Published 11 months ago by Alexander McQuarrie
3.0 out of 5 stars It shows the optimist at work
Well if every bet comes up trumps what he wanted may eventuate but if not things may be more gloomy
Published 14 months ago by Sybil M Ungar
5.0 out of 5 stars Good reason for the people of Scotland are the best people to run...
This book is not dry, and is beautifully written. If your not into politics and are looking for why you would vote yes in Scotland's Referendum this is the book for you. Read more
Published 15 months ago by S. P. Kindlen
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