At what point can we concede that the realities of world politics require that moral principles be compromised, and how do we know when a real ethical limit has been reached? This volume gathers leading constructivist scholars to explore the issue of moral limit and possibility in global political dilemmas. The contributors examine pressing ethical challenges such as sanctions, humanitarian intervention, torture, the self-determination of indigenous peoples, immigration, and the debate about international criminal tribunals and amnesties in cases of atrocity. Their analyses entail theoretical and empirical claims about the conditions of possibility and limits of moral change in world politics, therefore providing insightful leverage on the ethical question of 'what ought we to do?' This is a valuable contribution to the growing field of normative theory in International Relations and will appeal to scholars and advanced students of international ethics and political theory.
Preface; 1. Moral limit and possibility in world politics Richard Price; 2. Constructivism and the structure of ethical reasoning Christian Reus-Smit; 3. The role of consequences, comparison and counterfactuals in constructivist ethical thought Kathryn Sikkink; 4. Sovereignty, recognition and indigenous peoples Jonathan Havercroft; 5. Policy hypocrisy or political compromise? Assessing the morality of US policy toward undocumented migrants Amy Gurowitz; 6. Lie to me: sanctions on Iraq, moral argument and the international politics of hypocrisy Marc Lynch; 7. Paradoxes in humanitarian intervention Martha Finnemore; 8. Inevitable inequalities? Approaching gender equality and multiculturalism Ann Towns; 9. Interstate community-building and the identity/difference predicament Bahar Rumelili; 10. Progress with a price Richard Price.
"This collection of ten essays by constructivist scholars has made an outstanding achievement in proposing a new research agenda in International Relations, which has become divided over assessment of the development of humanitarianism since the end of the Cold War...This book is highly recommended for scholars of International Relations engaging with normative issues of all theoretical orientations."
Minako Ichikawa Smart, University of New South Wales, H-Human-Rights
"Forcefully arguing for the reintegration of ethics and international relations theory, this volume challenges all scholars of international relations to consider how their ethical claims inform standard theoretical concerns and how theoretical positions advance implicit and explicit ethical claims. Importantly, the contributors to the volume scrutinize their own positions as well as others, and do so through careful empirical analysis. This volume provides an important statement regarding what international relations used to be and still can be."
Michael N. Barnett, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
"Contributors to this outstanding collection of essays were asked to respond to the often-repeated criticism that constructivists travel light when it comes to ethical commitments. This charge may have been sustainable previously; it is certainly not now. Moral Limit and Possibility in World Politics makes an extremely persuasive case for constructivism’s contribution to normative theorising. The editor, in particular, is to be commended for rolling out a set of inter-related themes which give the book a unity and coherence seldom found in edited collections."
Tim Dunne, Professor of International Relations, University of Exeter