Political Thought and International Relations: Variations on a Realist Theme

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Political realism dominated the field of International Relations during the Cold War. Since then, however, its fortunes have been mixed: pushed onto the backfoot during the 1990s, it has in recent years returned to the centre of scholarly debate. Despite its prominence in International Relations, however, realism plays only a marginal role in contemporary international political theory, where it is often associated with a form of crude realpolitik that ignores the ethical dimensions of political life. In contract, the contributors to this book explore alternative understandings of realism, seeing it as a sophisticated mode of political theorising. Some chapters offer critical interpretations of key realist thinkers, including Hans Morgenthau, E. H. Carr, and Reinhold Niebuhr. Others seek to widen the lens through which realism is usually viewed, exploring the writings of Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, and Leo Strauss. Finally, a number of the contributors engage with general issues in international political theory, including the meaning of pessimism, the relationship between power and ethics, the purpose of normative theorising, and the character of political 'reality.' Straddling International Relations and political theory, this book makes a significant contribution to both fields.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This collection is one of the most illuminating sets of commentaries on realism to appeared for many years, some of the contributions standing out as having especial value"—Anatol Lieven, Senior Research Fellow, American Strategy Program

"Masterful introduction...the volume offers so much...making it overall one of the highlights of IR theorizing in recent years."—International Affairs

"A terrific collection that brings much needed depth and breadth to our understanding of the place of realism in both political thought and International Relations. In its range and sophistication, this book makes an excellent contribution to the development of international political theory."—Michael Williams, Professor of International Politics, University of Wales, Aberystwyth

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199556274
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/26/2009
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Duncan Bell is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Centre of International Studies at Cambridge University, and a Fellow of Christ's College. His research interests span political theory, international relations theory, and the history of political thought.

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Table of Contents

List of Contributors viii

1 Introduction: Under an Empty Sky-Realism and Political Theory Duncan Bell 1

2 The Ancient Greeks and Modern Realism: Ethics, Persuasion, and Power Richard Ned Lebow 26

3 A Theoretical Missed Opportunity? Hans J. Morgenthau as Critical Realist William E. Scheuerman 41

4 Hans J. Morgenthau and the Legacy of Max Weber Stephen P. Turner 63

5 Hans J. Morgenthau Versus E. H. Carr: Conflicting Conceptions of Ethics in Realism Sea´n Molloy 83

6 The Ethic of Reality in Hannah Arendt Patricia Owens 105

7 Towards a More Reflective Political Realism Roger Spegele 122

8 Realism's 'Hidden Dialogue': Leo Strauss, War, and Politics Nicholas Rengger 143

9 Pessimistic Realism and Realistic Pessimism Joshua Foa Dienstag 159

10 Realism and the Politics of (Dis)Enchantment Vibeke Schou Tjalve 177

11 Political Theory and the Realistic Spirit Ze'ev Emmerich 195

12 Normative Political Theory: A Flight from Reality? Andrea Sangiovanni 219

Index 240

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