Navigating the `Absolute Novum': John H. Herz's Political Realism and Political Idealism

K. Booth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (SciVal)


This article situates John Herz's work within the perennial debate about realism and idealism, and the issue of whether and how the two sets of ideas can be reconciled. The variety of `realist' and `idealist' concepts and conceptualisations within Herz's work, and his attempt to combine them in an approach he called `Realist Liberalism', reveals the inadequacy of the addiction of many teachers and researchers in academic international relations to stick unhelpful labels on theorists (such as `Realist') who advance complex and sometimes apparently contradictory intellectual positions. Placing Herz's work alongside other theorists who have grappled with the relationships between realism and idealism — notably Carr and Rawls — the article argues for categorising ideas and not individuals. More importantly, a case is made for the continuing validity of seeking to comprehend IR in terms of the interplay of idealism and realism, and for greater recognition of Herz's contribution to it
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)510-526
JournalInternational Relations
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2008


  • E H Carr
  • John H Herz
  • Nazim Hikmet
  • idealism
  • international relations theory
  • liberalism
  • John Roawl
  • realism


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