Crucially, constructivism focuses on normative beliefs and arguments. Indeed, Richard Price has asserted that ‘one of its main substantive contributions to the field [of IR] has been to show that moral norms – and thus ethics – matter in world politics.’ This is an important contribution, but does it go far enough? Arguably, normative IR theory takes this engagement a few steps further. Whereas constructivist approaches identify moral norms, and, importantly, thereby implicitly acknowledge their significance, they stop short of actually evaluating them - whether this means judging their internal coherence or assessing the degree to which they are consistent with broader systems of values. Normative IR theory confronts the wider contexts of meaning and interpretation within which moral norms in international politics are situated. Whereas constructivist work performs the important task of engaging in the explanatory, empirical task of identifying, describing and tracking changes in prominent moral norms, normative IR theory has the tools to evaluate, challenge, prescribe – and possibly even revise – these norms. The purpose of this paper is to examine whether this apparent division of labour is both accurate and necessary, and to critically explore both the possibilities and limits of these two areas of IR scholarship in their respective (and perhaps complementary) attempts to come to grips with ethical problems in world politics.
|Published - Mar 2011
|International Studies Association Annual Conference "Global Governance: Political Authority in Transition" - Montreal, Canada
Duration: 16 Mar 2011 → 19 Mar 2011
|International Studies Association Annual Conference "Global Governance: Political Authority in Transition"
|16 Mar 2011 → 19 Mar 2011