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The role of normative theory in the study of international relations: A critical assessment.

Dyer, Hugh Croil (1993) The role of normative theory in the study of international relations: A critical assessment. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The thesis argues for the centrality of normative theory in the study of international relations because of its unique capacity to address values comprehensively, in contrast to the dominant traditions of political realism which marginalises their theoretical significance. Two themes develop, each reflecting opposing pairs: fact/value, is/ought, description/prescription, feasibility/desirability. The first theme concerns the epistemological framework provided by a normative account of such values as the security and stability of knowledge and the orderly apprehension of the world. In contrast to realism, normative theory maintains the distinction between sensory experience and the assignment of meaning, indicating the contingent nature of epistemological foundations. The second theme concerns the political conditions of knowledge which determine the role of different theories, indicating the need for an adaptation of the traditional normative scholarship by overcoming the separation of ethics from politics which has so far limited its role. As values are central phenomena in politics, and politics is essentially normative in form (as is knowledge of it), consideration of value questions cannot be limited to peripheral commentary. The two themes emerge through analyses of the theoretical literature in international relations; of the philosophical foundations of normative theory; of its relationship to ideas and ideologies; of the encapsulation of values and interests in world views; of the communicative dynamic of norms in ethics and epistemology; and finally of the applied cases of deterrence, and foreign policy. The centrality of normative theory is indicated, and its relation to political theory and the study of international relations is examined.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, International Law and Relations, Political Science, International Relations
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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