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International Relations Theory
A New Introduction
Chapter 2
The International Political Theory Tradition
International Political Theory (IPT) examines the role of
rights, responsibilities, duties and obligations at
international or global levels
IPT = a tradition in its own right, or, systematic
reflections on the normative or ethical dimensions that
are present in other theoretical traditions
Aim of this chapter: Reconnect IR theory with political
Definition of International
Political Theory Tradition
Chris Brown (1992)
Terry Nardin (2006)
R.B.J. Walker (1987, 1993)
Kimberly Hutchings (1999)
Klaus-Gerd Giesen (1992)
Mervyn Frost (1986, 1996)
Theorists make a strong argument in favour of
abandoning the strict separation between political theory
& IR theory
Key terms used in study of IR belong to conceptual
repertoire of political theory
The early years: 1st half of the 20th century
Studies of international affairs combined historical
analysis, legal approaches, philosophical enquiry &
normative concerns
The forty years´ detour: 1950s-1980s
US: Explanatory theory
Great Britain: English School
The contemporary renaissance: last two decades
Currents of Thought
Four points of departure:
In political theory  cosmopolitan & communitarian
In International Relations theory
In neglecting political theory  Ethics of responsibility
& ethics of exclusion
In regarding IPT as a free-standing tradition – neither
IR nor political theory
Kinds of Theory
IPT amounts in many cases to no more and no less
than conceptual analysis
Notion of normative theory refers to at least three
different approaches to ethics
Role that normative ideas play in practice of politics
Seek engagement in rational debate as to the nature of ethical
Examine extent to which moral behaviour is heavily
constrained by the dynamics of political life
Main Variants of Theory
Just War Theory
 M. Walzer (1977) Just and Unjust Wars
Theory of International Justice
 T. Nardin (2006) and his aim to bridge the just war
tradition & distributive justice
Theories of Community
 B. Anderson (1991) Imagined Communities
Main Intra-Tradition Debates
Five debates:
Between IPT theorists and IR theorists & philosophers
Between Liberals and Communitarians
On applicability of political theory categories
On international justice
On interpretative strategies
Research Agenda
National Notions
State-centric Notions
Global Notions
International Society
World Society
World Community
International Politics
World Politics
International Justice
Global Justice
International Order
World Order
IPT: oldest & youngest tradition in the six-pack of
traditions introduced in this book
Oldest  political theorists have always reflected on
international affairs, see Thucydides & the Peloponnesian War
Youngest  IR theory & political theory were strictly separated
during most of the 20th century - now they are in process of
being bridged
In the widest sense of IPT it spans political theory from
Plato to Pogge, from Kant to Doyle & from Hegel to Frost