The decisive difference is that in today’s international arena there are huge obstacles to forming global political institutions that have no analogues from the era of national state-formation, namely powerful national governments whose leaders command both widespread political legitimacy and coercive resources.

Moral foundation of politics by Ian Shapiro

My question is what does 'that' belong to (emphasis mine)? To 'huge obstacles' or 'global political institutions? And how can I determine this in other similar sentences please explain to me.

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately, this sentence is quite ambiguous and it could feasibly refer to either the obstacles or the institutions.

Determing which one it is is usually a matter of context. You might try to see if it could be more clearly written a different way for one fo the options.

In this case, the information that comes afterwards appears to be relating to obstacles. Furthermore, if it were referring to the institutions then it would more likely be written as "... institutions with no analogues ...". Using these 2 clues, it seems most likely to me that it is referring to the obstacles.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .