Poststructuralist Approaches to IR and the Question of Ethics:
: A reading R. B. J. Walker and David Campbell

  • Petter Narby

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Economic and Social Studies


This dissertation is a philosophical critique of R.B.J. Walker's and David Campbell's respective contributions to poststructuralist thought on ethics in international relations (IR). It focuses on how their work deals with the predominant question asked about ethics in IR in terms of its framing, the answers it calls for and the link between the two. This question (here the question of ethics) asks what ethical conduct in IR is and even though Walker and Campbell undermine the concepts the question relies on, they ask questions similar to this. The dissertation is motivated by a suspicion that doing so might be inherently difficult as well as by a perceived lack of similar engagements. The dissertation argues, through close readings of texts by Walker and Campbell, that their approach is different from that in normative IR in content, but similar in form. This form of answer is taken to depend on their framing of the question of ethics and to induce tensions in their answers. Due to the focus on these writers the knowledge claims will be restricted to their work and it will thus be argued that it seems inherently difficult for them to answer the question of ethics in coherence with the critique of normative IR that their work takes as point of departure. Hence, the question limits their critical potential and their persistence in asking it circumscribes the debate about ethics in IR. However, the dissertation refuses to go beyond the critique and search for a solution since this would contradict the suspicion that guides this work
Date of Award2006
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorToni Ann Erskine (Supervisor) & Howard Williams (Supervisor)

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