The International Relations (IR) theory of realism and the practice of peacekeeping would seem to be at odds with each other. Realist theorising in IR is traditionally focused on, for example, grand questions of geopolitical rivalry between major powers, on arms races between industrialised states with sophisticated weapons systems, on the dynamics of military and nuclear strategy. For realists, international peace is only ever a temporary reprieve and one produced by shifting alliances of mutual convenience and interest calibrated by the
Events at the beginning of the twenty-first century have served to demonstrate to us the truth of the insight at the heart of the recent renewed interest in realist political theory that politics is characterized by inevitable and endemic disagreement and conflict. Yet much contemporary liberal political theory has taken place against the backdrop of an assumed widespread consensus on liberal values and principles. A central theoretical question for our day is therefore whether liberalism is a theory of politics consonant with the modern world or whether it is grounded in untenable theoretical presumptions and foundations.
This monograph offers the first comprehensive overview of the resurgence of interest in realist political theory and develops a unique and urgent defense of liberal politics in realist terms. Through explorations of the work of a diverse range of thinkers, including Bernard Williams, John Rawls, Raymond Geuss, Judith Shklar, John Gray, Carl Schmitt and Max Weber, the author advances a theory of liberal realism that is consistent with the realist emphasis on disagreement and conflict yet still recognizably liberal in its concern with respecting individuals’ freedom and constraining political power. The result is a unique contribution to the ongoing debates surrounding realism and an original and timely re-imagining of liberal theory for the twenty-first century. This provocative work will be of interest to students and all concerned with the possibility of realizing liberalism and its moral aspirations in today’s world.
9 3 1 5 Critical realism SCIENCE, that is, knowledge of consequences; which is called also PHILOSOPHY. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan1 Without contraries is no progression. William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell2 Introduction Critical realism: the painted veil of dialectics3 Critical realism attempted to ground dialectics in realism. Roy Bhaskar dealt extensively with the issue, and challenged Kant’s critique of science, empiricism and positivism throughout his work. He insisted on presenting the epistemological validity of structures or mechanisms which
Euro-realism is, formally at least, the cause which European Conservative and Reformist politicians are seeking to advance – a practical, common-sense approach to European integration, ECR MEPs claim, which tries to maintain what they consider to be good about the European Union while calling a halt to any further attempts to achieve ‘ever closer union’. Aspects of this sound eminently reasonable; it might even be akin to the type of reform agenda that politicians such the French President, Emmanuel Macron, would endorse as they seek to get
7 The moderate hegemony of liberal realism Legitimacy is a central concept in realist thought. Though the popular caricature of realism, especially in international relations theory, encourages the view that might is synonymous with right, that the ability to rule is the same as the right to do so, realists have often stressed that this is not the case. Rather, there is an important difference between rule as mere domination and rule as authoritative that the concept of legitimacy allows us to determine. This begs the obvious question of how liberal realism
This chapter outlines the primary differences between realist and institutionalist perspectives on alliances and provides the theoretical background that frames the two hypotheses outlined in the Introduction. We argue that realism and institutionalism are distinctive, even if they are not necessarily exclusive of each other, and they arrive at quite different conclusions about the relevance of formal
6 The partisan foundations of liberal realism The aim of this chapter is to explore the ramifications for liberal theory of taking seriously the fact of political pluralism that incorporating the realist vision of politics demands. Any political theory that requires addressing or managing pluralism, be it moral, religious or political, will need to have an account of the origin and nature of that disagreement, for this will be crucial in determining the appropriate response. Realism has offered several different such accounts ranging from the clash of interests
5 Bernard Williams and the structure of liberal realism The hankering for political consensus that lies at the heart of liberal theory is not some epiphenomenal offshoot of an underlying epistemological commitment to a form of Platonism or value monism, but is driven by the moral commitment to place theoretical and practical limitations on the ends to which political coercive power can be put. This is a noble objective. Yet as we saw in the previous chapter, even attempts to modify the nature and content of the required consensus to a set of less substantial but
In this chapter we show how Germany’s fight against the Versailles peace settlement was intertwined with the rise of realism in the US. 1 That early International Relations (IR) realism in North America had a notable German connection is undisputed in the literature. The historiography of IR so far located this connection in the personal history of Jewish émigré scholars, such as Hans J. Morgenthau, John (Hans-Hermann) Herz and Arnold Wolfers. These academics witnessed the collapse of the Weimar Republic and Hitler’s rise to power, which instilled in them
Epistemology should be the axe that breaks the ice of a traditionalism that covers and obstructs scientific enlightenment. This book explores the arguments between critical theory and epistemology in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Focusing on the first and second generations of critical theorists and Luhmann's systems theory, it examines how each approaches epistemology. The book offers a critique of the Kantian base of critical theory's epistemology in conjunction with the latter's endeavour to define political potential through the social function of science. The concept of dialectics is explored as the negation of the irrational and, furthermore, as the open field of epistemological conflict between rationality and irrationality. The book traces the course of arguments that begin with Dilthey's philosophy of a rigorous science, develop with Husserl's phenomenology, Simmel's and Weber's interest in the scientific element within the social concerns of scientific advance. In structuralism, the fear of dialogue prevails. The book discusses the epistemological thought of Pierre Bourdieu and Gilles Deleuze in terms of their persistence in constructing an epistemological understanding of social practice free from the burdens of dialectics, reason and rationality. It also enquires into issues of normativity and modernity within a comparative perspective on modernism, postmodernism and critical theory. Whether in relation to communication deriving from the threefold schema of utterance- information- understanding or in relation to self- reflexivity, systems theory fails to define the bearer or the actor of the previous structural processes. Critical realism attempted to ground dialectics in realism.