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Political realism dominated the field of International Relations during the Cold War. Since then, however, its fortunes have been mixed:
pushed onto the backfoot during 1990s, it has in recent years retuned to the centre of scholarly debate. Despite its prominence in International Relations, however, realism plays only a marginal role in contemporary international political theory. It is often associated with a form of crude realpolitik that ignores the ethical dimensions of political life. The contributors to this book explore alternative understandings of realism, seeing it as a diverse and complex mode of political and ethical theorising rather than simply a "value-neutral" social scientific theory or the unreflective defence of the national interest. A number of the chapters offer critical interpretations of key figures in the canon of twentieth century realism, including Hans Morgenthau, E. H. Carr, and Reinhold Niebuhr. Others seek to widen the lens through which realism is usually viewed, exploring the writings of Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, and Leo Strauss. Finally, a number of the contributors engage with general issues in international political theory, including the meaning and value of pessimism, the relationship between power and ethics, the purpose of normative political theory, and what might constitute political "reality." Straddling International Relations and political theory, this book makes a significant contribution to both fields.
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this collection is one of the most illuminating sets of commentaries on realism to have appeared for many years, some of the contributions standing out as having especial value (Anatol Lieven)
masterful introduction...the volume offers so much ... making it overall one of the highlights of IR theorizing in recent years. (Necati Polat, International Affairs)
A terrific collection that brings much needed depth and breadth to our understanding of the place of realism in both political thought and International Relations. In its range and sophistication, this book makes an excellent contribution to the development of international political theory. (Michael Williams, Professor, Department of International Politics, University of Wales, Aberystwyth)
Duncan Bell is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Centre of International Studies, University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Christ's College. His research interests span political theory, international relations theory, and the history of political thought.
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