Realism, Idealism and International Politics: A Reinterpretation

M. Griffiths

International relations is a discipline dominated by the debate between the realist and idealist paradigms. Martin Griffiths provides the most comprehensive critical review of the realist tradition to date. He looks closely at the terms 'realism' and 'idealism' in international relations and in doing so uncovers a broad range of interesting issues, such as the reasons that anarchy is seen as incompatible with society by political realists, and the connection of idealism with unfounded hopes for the future. 'Realism, Idealism and' 'International Politics' argues, against conventional wisdom, that political realism is not a meaningless term. Martin Griffiths attempts to re-evaluate the terms 'realism' and 'idealism' through a detailed critical examination of the 'grand theorists' traditionally associated with realism, Hans Morgenthau and Kenneth Waltz, and concludes that they could more properly be categorized as idealists. Morgenthau's work, he argues, suffers from the shortcomings of 'nostalgic idealism' and Waltz's from those of 'complacent idealism.' Griffiths' book provides a compelling basis for conceiving international politics as a 'rule-governed' arena among states.

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