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The Ethics of Neorealism: Waltz and the Time of International Life
Swedish Defence University, Department of Security, Strategy and Leadership (ISSL), Political Science Section.
2018 (English)In: European Journal of International Relations, ISSN 1354-0661, E-ISSN 1460-3713Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

This article addresses the question of what it means to think of a distinctly international ethics by developing a radical reinterpretation of Waltzian neorealism from a Derridean deconstructive perspective. The core argument of the article is that Derridean deconstruction effectively explains why there is an ethics of neorealism in the first place, and why this ethics cannot be easily overcome. Underpinning this argument is a notion in Derrida’s philosophy of survival as an unconditional affirmation of life, which finds an equivalent in Waltz’s theory of international life in the anarchic system. On this basis, I claim that Waltz’s theory is ethical, not despite its focus on the structural conditions of survival, but precisely because of it. Moreover, the article shows how this notion of ethics renders universal ethical ideals, beyond relations of violence, not only impossible, but undesirable. They are undesirable because to actually fulfil them would be to undermine the conditions that make international life possible in the first place. In this way, various attempts to theorize the meaning and implications of international ethics that hold on to the notion of ethical ideals beyond relations of violence become untenable. Instead of aspiring towards such ideals, the article concludes, international ethics should be thought of as an unconditional affirmation of the incalculable future that structures international life and inevitably exposes it to the worst forms of destruction, but also enables the making of responsible decisions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
Keywords [en]
Derrida, international ethics, neorealism, survival, time, Waltz
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Statsvetenskap med inriktning mot strategi och säkerhetspolitik
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-7284DOI: 10.1177/1354066118760990OAI: oai:DiVA.org:fhs-7284DiVA, id: diva2:1183156
Available from: 2018-02-15 Created: 2018-02-15 Last updated: 2018-06-11

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Lundborg, Tom

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CiteExportLink to record
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  • apa
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  • de-DE
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  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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