A. J. Coates
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Realism resists the application of morality to war. Such resistance is typically part of a more general moral scepticism that is applied not just to the extreme circumstance of war but to international relations in general. In its purer forms, realism rejects the traditional subjection of politics to ethics and affirms, in particular, the radical autonomy of international politics. Utopianism has inflated expectations about the world of international politics. Without the antithetical notion of 'utopianism' realism would be largely unintelligible. Realism is a reaction against the perceived and powerful tendency to apply, or to seek to apply, moral norms and prescriptions to the international domain with scant regard for the innumerable constraints that the realities and complexities of power impose. The realist understanding of war and international relations challenges the ethics of war in many respects. Realism of the amoral kind systematically suppresses the moral context of politics and war.

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The ethics of war

Second edition


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