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International Relations TheoriesDiscipline and Diversity

International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity (4th edn)

Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki, and Steve Smith
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date: 30 September 2022

p. 23613. Normative International Relations Theorylocked

p. 23613. Normative International Relations Theorylocked

  • Toni Erskine

Abstract

This chapter deals with normative international relations theory, a field of study that relies on a variety of approaches and theories to explore moral expectations, decisions, and dilemmas in world politics. Normative IR theory has adopted — and adapted — conceptual categories such as communitarianism and cosmopolitanism from political theory. It also borrows from moral philosophy to designate different types of ethical reasoning, such as deontology and consequentialism. The chapter begins with an overview of the history, influences, and some of the categories that normative IR theory brings to the study of international relations. It then examines the ways in which normative IR theory engages with the hidden ethical assumptions of a range of IR approaches. It also considers the case of civilian deaths during the 2003 Iraq war in relation to the just war tradition, and more specifically to the idea that soldiers have duties to exercise restraint in war.

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