In the post-Cold War era, we have lost the clarity that once
characterized our vision of international conflict. Foreign affairs
are no longer defined solely by the ideological battles fought
between capitalism and communism or by the competition between two
great nuclear superpowers. That oversimplified view has been
replaced by an increasing awareness of the moral and political
complexity surrounding international relations.
To help us deal with this new reality, Thomas Pangle and Peter
Ahrensdorf provide a critical introduction to the most important
conceptions of international justice, spanning 2,500 years of
intellectual history from Thucydides and Plato to Morgenthau and
Waltz. Their study shows how older traditions of political
philosophy remain relevant to current debates in international
relations, and how political thinkers through the centuries can
help us deepen our understanding of today's stalemate between
realism and idealism.
Pangle and Ahrensdorf guide the reader through a sequence of
theoretical frameworks for understanding the moral basis of
international relations: the cosmopolitan vision of the classical
philosophers, the "just war" teachings of medieval theologians, the
revolutionary realism of Machiavelli, the Enlightenment idealism of
Kant, and the neo-realism of twentieth-century theorists. They
clarify the core of each philosopher's conceptions of international
relations, examine the appeal of each position, and bring these
alternatives into mutually illuminating juxtaposition.
The authors clearly show that appreciating the fundamental
questions pursued by these philosophers can help us avoid
dogmatism, abstraction, or oversimplification when considering the
moral character of international relations. "Justice Among Nations"
restores the study of the great works of political theory to its
natural place within the discipline of international relations as
it retrieves the question of international justice as a major theme
of political philosophy. It provides our moral compass with new
points of orientation and invites serious readers to grapple with
some of the most perplexing issues of our time.
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