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Rethinking the concept of order in international politics: Carl Schmitt and Jürgen Habermas

Orsi, Roberto (2012) Rethinking the concept of order in international politics: Carl Schmitt and Jürgen Habermas. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The concept of order in international politics, despite its very frequent use in all strands of IR literature, is seldom explicitly addressed as an object of analytical reflection and definition, and remains often opaque. This research aims to clarify the nature of order as a concept within IR theory, by highlighting its constitutive elements and by positioning it within the horizon of current political-philosophical and sociological discussions. This thesis starts with a literature review showing the limitedness of the ways in which order is employed as a concept in many IR theoretical works, while underscoring its critical problematisation as the main path towards its clarification. Following and integrating Nicholas Rengger’s seminal work on the topic, this research argues that the concept of order, which entails the double nature of a descriptive/explanatory but also normative account of reality, has to be understood within a philosophical discussion of the political, lying between the two poles of political theology (Carl Schmitt) and the sociological theory of secularisation (Jürgen Habermas). While introducing and discussing the two authors, this thesis illustrates the roles which they have assumed in inspiring IR theoretical work (in critical theory), pointing at the limits of their established readings within the discipline and offering new perspectives, which should essentially rely on a more direct critical politicisation of the sacred. This thesis proceeds with an exploration of the problem of order in the modern condition, through a reconstruction and a discussion of the common Weberian genealogy in both Schmitt and Habermas, focusing on the importance of the sociology of religion for the conceptualisation of the political in modernity (Schmitt) and of the concepts of rationality and rationalisation (Habermas) respectively. Against this background, a critique of the Habermasian view on secularisation is developed, as Habermas’s argument appears to be an incomplete answer to the problem of the symbolic relations between the religious and the political, and hence of his conceptualisation of political order, a problem which is also reflected at the level of international politics. Note: translations of original texts in this thesis are done by the author unless otherwise specified.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Roberto Orsi
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations

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