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Critiques of International Society

  • Date Submitted: 12/19/2010 07:14 AM
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Critiques of International Society
Several major criticisms can be made of the lnternational Society approach to IR. First, there is   the realist critique that the evidence of International norms as determinants of state policy and behavior is weak or non-existent. Second, there Is the liberal critique that the International Society tradition downplays domestic politics-e.g. democracy-and cannot account for progressive change in international politics. Third, there is the IPE critique that it fails to give an account of international economic relationships. Finally, there are several solidarist critiques that emerge from within the International Society tradition itself that focus on its limitations as a theory of political modernity that cannot come to grips with an emerging postmodern world. The realist critique of the International Society approach rests on a deep skepticism that there is an 'international society as Hedley Bull (1995: 13) characterizes it: a group of states that “conceive themselves to be bound by a common set of rules in their relations with one another, and share in the working of common institutions”.   Realists believe that states are bound only by their own national interests. Where is the evidence, realists ask, that states are also “bound by certain rules…   that they should respect one another's claims to independence, that they should honor agreements into which they enter, and that they should be subject to certain limitations in exercising force against one another' (Bull 1995: 13)? Realists are skeptical that states really do behave that way. States may respect such rules, but only because it is in their interest to do so. If it is not deemed to be in their interest they are not likely to respect them. Realists thus see states as being “bound by a common set of rules in their relations with another” only as long as there is an advantage in doing that. When there is a conflict between international obligations and national interests...

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