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July 08 , 2010

Normative Theory in International Relations


Normative theory in international relations, as it is discussed at present in the framework of the cosmopolitan/communitarian debate, is in a condition of stasis. Cosmopolitan and communitarian positions are generally assumed to be irreconcilable, with no means available for reaching conclusions on ethical questions in world politics. This book pursues three lines of inquiry. First, it aims to examine the nature and the extent of the impasse within this debate. Second, it re-evaluates whether the cosmopolitan/communitarian dichotomy offers a complete picture of the most pressing issues at stake within normative international relations theory. The book suggests that a more refined focus on epistemology and questions of foundationalism and antifoundationalism is necessary. Third, it constructs an argument for a new normative approach to international ethics which draws from the tradition of American pragmatism and is sensitive to the wider picture of concerns raised in the course of the book.

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