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Legitimacy and Authority in International Politics by Ian Hurd NOTES.txt

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McGill University
Political Science
POLI 244
Fernando Nunez- Mietz

Legitimacy and Authority in International Politics by Ian Hurd NOTES Outline: What motivates states to follow international norms, rules, and commitments? All social systems must confront what we might call the problem of social control�that is, how to get actors to comply with society's rules�but the problem is particularly acute for international relations, because the international social system does not possess an overarching center of political power to enforce rules. Yet, taken in balance with other values, a measure of order is a valued good. Some take this absence of centralized power to mean that the international system is like a Hobbesian state of nature, where only material power matters; others see it as evidence that international rules have force only when they are in the self- interest of each state. I show that these two conclusions are premature because of their shallow reading of international society and misinterpretation of the ways in which authority works in domestic society. Summary: Scholars of international relations have long argued that the international system is characterized by anarchy and that states are the central players, and only recently has this orthodoxy been challenged by new thinking about hierarchy and nonstate political actors. In an innovative modification of this debate, Ian Hurd�s After Anarchy ties together the core arguments of two major schools of thought, realism and constructivism. Hurd argues that perceptions of legitimacy undergird how states act, both vis-�-vis one another and in relation to international institutions; in other words, legitimacy creates international order. Furthermore, if legitimacy is necessary to compel state action and shapes how states perceive the world, then states cannot be the only bearers of such power: it is also held by international bodies, such as the United Nations Security Council, the empirical focus of the study. Hurd�s argument about legitimacy can be broken into two major strands. The first is an argument that anchors legitimacy firmly in debates about the rational state. Hurd hopes to undo the current dichotomy between those who believe states to be rational actors engaged in shaping the world according to their interests and those who argue that interests are shaped by underlying understandings of how the world �ought� to be. In other words, he shows that James March and Johan Olsen�s �logic of consequences� and �logic of appropriateness� are mutually dependent in explaining international relations. The second strand is that states not only respond to one another�s claims of legitimacy but that international organizations, such as the UN, may also affect how states conceive of their own interests, and of right and wrong actions. In other words, states have lost their exclusive claims on making the rules of international politics. The task Hurd undertakes is by no means an easy one. By classifying legitimacy as a �governing concept� (p. 29) over the use of symbols and authority, Hurd reveals the problems that have plagued theories about legitimacy in international relations. If he is right, and legitimacy in fact is a meta-concept that ultimately determines the behavior of states in the international system, current theories about anarchy and state sovereignty need serious revision. Yet few scholars have offered either clear explanations of what legitimacy is, how one goes about attaining it, or how legitimacy affects international poli
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