Political Vision in the Discipline of International Relations

Richard John Beardsworth

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5 Citations (SciVal)


International Relations theory does not distinguish enough between prediction and vision, and, as a result, retreats unduly from practice. This article argues for the importance of political vision in the study of international relations by complicating the standard social science distinction between fact and value. Using Nietzschean genealogy, it argues for a dual relationship between the normative and the empirical: the deduction of norms from the constraints of history; and the normative, proactive responses to this history within these constraints. This dual relationship underscores the importance of political vision and political leadership in the study of international politics. The article then analyses present historical challenges and suggests several normative responses to them that can be understood in the terms of ‘political vision’ in International Relations. It finally takes the example of the present absence of vision and leadership in the European Union and argues for a political Europe, the Union as a political power.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-561
Number of pages21
JournalMillennium: Journal of International Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


  • example of a politial Europe
  • normative-empirical divide
  • political appropriation of historical contingency
  • political vision


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