The Argument of The Anarchical Society

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


There are two notable discrepancies in The Anarchical Society: Bull claims that he does not canvass any solution to the problems that humankind faces, yet this is precisely what he does; and contrary to what the book’s subtitle, A Study of Order in World Politics, signifies in his own conceptual vocabulary, and to how he thinks the ‘world political system’ should be studied, the book remains almost exclusively a much more narrowly-focused study of international order in the contemporary global ‘international system’. This chapter first analyses the key moves of the book’s argument step by step. It then investigates in detail the underlying sources of the two discrepancies in Bull’s argument to obtain a deeper understanding of his thought structures. A brief concluding section outlines what could fruitfully be done by others to make further contributions to a study of order, and other related goals, in contemporary world politics.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Anarchical Society at 40
Subtitle of host publicationContemporary Challenges and Prospects
EditorsHidemi Suganami, Madeline Carr, Adam Humphreys
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198779605, 9780198805144
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2017


  • Bull, justice, order, international society, international system, world political system


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