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Presentation on theme: "2501 THEORIES OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS"— Presentation transcript:

Lecture 3 REALISM (Classical Realism)

2 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

3 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’

4 Machiavelli 1469-1527 The Prince
‘it is much safer to be feared than to be loved, if one must choose’

5 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’

6 Modern Realists E.H. Carr & Hans Morgenthau
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.

7 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)

8 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

9 KEY POINTS International Politics as a struggle for power among nations Pessimistic View of Human Nature Amoral Perspective

10 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


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