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The Realist Tradition and the Limits of International Relations


  • Page extent: 254 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.38 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521534758 | ISBN-10: 0521534755)

Realism is commonly portrayed as theory that reduces international relations to pure power politics. Michael Williams provides an important reexamination of the Realist tradition and its relevance for contemporary international relations. Examining three thinkers commonly invoked as Realism's foremost proponents - Hobbes, Rousseau, and Morgenthau - the book shows that, far from advocating a crude realpolitik, Realism's most famous classical proponents actually stressed the need for a restrained exercise of power and a politics with ethics at its core. These ideas are more relevant than ever at a time when the nature of responsible responses to international problems are at the centre of contemporary political debate. This original interpretation of major thinkers will interest scholars of international relations and the history of ideas.

• A re-examination of the Realist tradition • Reinterprets Hobbes, Rousseau and Morgenthau • Places Realism at the centre of contemporary debates


Introduction; 1. Sceptical states: Hobbes; 2. Rousseau, realism and realpolitik; 3. Hans Morgenthau and the historical construction of realism; 4. The tyranny of false polarities; 5. The ethic of responsibility.


''If we needed any more evidence of realism's resurgence in the field of International Relations, then Michael C. Williams's original and thought-provoking book on the realist tradition should serve as the final testament … This is a book that all realists and their critics should ponder.' International Affairs

'This book makes an important contribution to recent efforts to reinterpret realism.' Political Studies Review

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