By Michael C. Williams
Even if thinkers akin to Thucydides, Rousseau and Hobbes are thought of imperative to the realist culture, Michael Williams re-evaluates their positions. Arguing that such philosophers weren't focused on methodological problems with rationality and anarchy, as ordinarily interpreted, Williams asserts that they desired to identify political practices for leaders which might make sure order. His unique interpretation of significant thinkers will curiosity students of diplomacy and the heritage of rules.
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Additional resources for The realist tradition and the limits of international relations
In the state of nature, individuals construct their own realities, their own understandings of what is good and bad, desirable and undesirable, threatening and unthreatening, and act on the basis of these beliefs. In Leviathan, for example, he puts the point this way: ‘whatsoever is the object of any man’s appetite or desire that is it which he for his part calleth good; and the object of his hate and aversion, evil; and of his contempt, vile and inconsiderable. ’15 Lacking agreement on what the world is, as well as over what it ought to be, the state of nature is anarchic in a sense far deeper than that captured by the ‘security dilemmas’, or ‘coordination problems’, or logics of ‘relative gains’ so beloved by rationalist thinkers.
For a treatment of Hobbes as a theorist of individual ‘virtue’, see David Berkowitz, Virtue and the Making of Modern Liberalism (Princeton University Press, 2000), pp. 35–73. 44 For a subtle and suggestive treatment of a number of analogous themes, see James Der Derian, ‘The Value of Security: Hobbes, Marx, and Baudrillard’, in On Security, ed. R. Lipschutz (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996). 39 The Realist Tradition and the Limits of International Relations basic level inescapably relative.
This all-too-easy manoeuvre, I will argue later, has been the source of considerable confusion. 3 Hans Morgenthau, Scientific Man versus Power Politics (University of Chicago Press, 1946), p. 113. 19 The Realist Tradition and the Limits of International Relations The attractions of Hobbes’ thinking for a Realist theory of International Relations are easy enough to see. His stress on the human capacity for mendacity, treachery, and violence seems to accord nicely with long-standing Realist concerns with the ‘darker’ side of human nature.
The realist tradition and the limits of international relations by Michael C. Williams