International Society 10/4/2012 9:15:00 AM
Basic International Society Approach
IR should be understood as a ‘society’ of sovereign states
Try to understand what inclines statespeople of IR to act the way they do by
seeking to gain insight into the ideas and thought behind their foreign policies.
Traditional international society derives from philosophy, history, and law and is
characterized by reliance upon the exercise of judgement
Disagree with Waltz’s claim that there is a structure of int'l politics which
operates with law like regularity.
o International society is on the traditionalist side, not behavioralist
Study of the historical human world.
In the middle of classical realism and classical liberalism
o IR is a society of states
o Principle actors are the statespeople
Foreign policy inclinations of states and statespeople are central
focus of analysis
IR is a study of war and peace
Although there is no world gov that is above sovereign states, there are common
rules, interests, and institutions and organizations which are created and share
o Anarchical society: worldwide social order of ind states
Three ways to look at relations of states (International society contains all three
concepts) proposed by Martin Wight
o Realism: states are power agencies that pursue their own interests.
o Rationalism: states are legal organizations that operate in accordance
with int'l law and diplomatic practice (Grotius)
o Revolutionism: community of humankind is more fundamental than the
society of states. (Kant)
Doctrine of overthrowing existing regimes
IR theory is a human activity concerned with fundamental values:
o International Order: pattern of disposition of int'l activity that sustains
the basic goals of the society of states.
o International Justice: moral rules which confer rights and duties upon
states and nations.
State sovereignty and human rights often conflict o Pluralist: principles of respect for sovereignty and non-intervention
always come first
o Solidarist: human rights take precedence over the rights of sovereign
See box. 5.3 for summary
The Three Traditions: Theory
Wight claimed realist, rationalist, and revolutionist thought are foundational ideas
The Three Traditions: Practice
4 key emphases in int'l society theory
o on leading operative ideas that are seen to shape the thought, policies,
and activities of the people involved (statespeople)
o on the dialogue between the leading ideas, values, and beliefs which come
into play in the conduct of foreign policy.
o On the historical dimension of IR
o On the normative aspect as seen in a historical light.
Order and Justice—Hedley Bull
Wight and Bull: only possible to theorize IR within context of concrete historical
events and episodes.
Main point of anarchical society is promotion and preservation of international
4 goals of the society of states: (acc. to Bull)
o preservation of int'l society
upholding the ind of member states
helping to secure the normative foundations of all social life
o keeping of promises