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2501

THEORIES OF
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Lecture 3
REALISM
(Classical Realism)
KEY ASSUMPTIONS
States are the principal or most important actors (IR is
the study of relations among these units). Hence, the
notion of an international system of states

State as a unitary actor (an integrated unit)

State as a rational actor (rationality: end-means
relationship) Distinction between high and low politics

National Security as the most important issue for states

Intellectual Roots
(Classical Realism)
Thucydides

History of the Peloponnesian War (The Melian
Dialogue)

The standard of justice depends on the equality
of power to compel and that in fact the strong do
what they have power to do, and the weak
accept what they have to accept



Machiavelli
1469-1527
The Prince

it is much safer to be feared than to be
loved, if one must choose
Hobbes
1588-1679
Leviathan

Key assumption about human nature

In the absence of a sovereign authority, life of the
individual is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short

The Passions that Incline Men (and Women) to Peace:
The passions that inline men to peace, are fear of death;
desire of such things as are necessary to commodious
life; and a hope by their industry to obtain them. And
reason suggesteth convenient articles of peace, upon
which men may be drawn to agreement

Modern Realists
E.H. Carr & Hans Morgenthau
E.H. Carr (1892-1982)

The Twenty Years Crisis (1939)

Critique of Utopianism (Liberal Internationalism)

(1) history is a sequence of cause and effect, whose course can be
analysed and understood by intellectual effort, but not (as the
utopians believe) directed by " imagination

(2) theory does not (as the utopians assume) create practice, but
practice theory

(3) Politics are not (as the utopians pretend) a function of ethics,
but ethics of politics.Morality is the product of power.


MORGENTHAU
(1904-1980)
Politics Among Nations (1948)
Context of US hegemony
Objective: Scientific study of IR (apply
natural sciences to IR)
Distinction between liberal utopianism &
realism (Different conceptions of human
nature)

Six Principles of Political Realism
Politics is governed by objective laws

Centrality of the concept of interest defined in terms of power (national
interest as the guiding principle of international politics)

Nature of power can change, but the concept of interest remains consistent


Universal moral principles do not govern state behaviour, but interest


No universally agreed set of moral principles


Politics is a separate sphere of human activity


KEY POINTS
International Politics as a struggle for
power among nations

Pessimistic View of Human Nature

Amoral Perspective
Critique of Political Realism
Understanding of human nature

Reification of the state (regards state as a real
thing)

Limited notion of power (military power is
primary)

Weak notion of change and transformation in
world politics