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download realism and international relations jack donnelly pdfRealism and International
P U B L I S H E D B Y T H E P R E S S S Y N D I C AT E O F T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F C A M B R I D G E
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© Jack Donnelly 2000
This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without
the written permission of Cambridge University Press.
First published 2000
Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge
Typeface Plantin MT 10/13 pt
[S E ]
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data
Realism and international relations / Jack Donnelly.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0 521 59229 1 (hb) – ISBN 0 521 59752 8 (pb)
1. International relations. 2. Realism. I. Title.
327.1⬘01 – dc21
ISBN 0 521 59229 1 hardback
ISBN 0 521 59752 8 paperback
1 The realist tradition
2 Human nature and state motivation
3 Anarchy, hierarchy, and order
4 System, structure, and balance of power
5 Institutions and international society
6 Morality and foreign policy
Conclusion: The nature and contribution of realism
Selected recommended readings
The realist tradition
One might imagine that defining an old and well-established theory such
as realism would be a simple task. A look at the representative sample of
recent and prominent definitions in box 1.1, however, reveals considerable diversity1 – which on further reflection should not be surprising.
Even in traditions with authoritative defining texts, such as Marxism
and Christianity, different emphases and antagonistic interpretations are
common. We should expect at least as much variety in realism.
Realism2 is not a theory defined by an explicit set of assumptions and
propositions. Rather, as many commentators have noted, it is a general
orientation: “a philosophical disposition” (Gilpin 1986: 304); “a set of
normative emphases which shape theory” (Ferguson and Mansbach
1988: 79); an “attitude of mind” with “a quite distinctive and recognizable flavour” (Garnett 1984: 110); “a loose framework” (Rosenthal 1991:
7); and “a ‘big tent,’ with room for a number of different theories” (Elman
1996: 26). Realism is an approach to international relations that has
emerged gradually through the work of a series of analysts who have situated themselves within, and thus delimited, a distinctive but still diverse
style or tradition of analysis.3
See Cusack and Stoll (1990: ch. 2) for a review that emphasizes this diversity. More critically, see Goldmann (1988). For further definitions see John, Wright, and Garnett (1972:
96–97), Maghroori and Ramberg (1982: 14–16), Vasquez (1983: 15–19, 26–30), Olson
and Onuf (1985: 7), Cox (1986: 211–212), Ferguson and Mansbach (1988: 40–47, 102),
Stein (1990: 4–7), Rosenau and Durfee (1995: 11–13), Elman (1996: 19–21), Grieco
(1997: 164–168), Labs (1997: 7), Mastanduno (1997: 50).
We should note at the outset that I am concerned here with political realism, the tradition
of realpolitik or power politics. “Realism,” however, is also a philosophical doctrine,
asserting some kind of correspondence between knowledge claims and an objective
external reality. For a good recent overview of the philosophical debate, see Kulp (1997).
Katz (1998) offers a defense of philosophical realism that canvasses the leading objections. “Realism” is also the name of a literary school or movement that was of considerable prominence in the nineteenth and early twentieth century (as well as in the
mid-twentieth century, in its “socialist” variant). Political realists may or may not be philosophical or literary realists.
On the idea of traditions of international thought, see Nardin and Mapel (1992) and
Dunne (1993). More broadly, compare Gunnell (1979).
The realist tradition
Box 1.1. Representative definitions of realism
(The following passages are direct quotations or very close paraphrases.)
1. The state’s interest provides the spring of action.
2. The necessities of policy arise from the unregulated competition of states.
3. Calculation based on these necessities can discover the policies that will