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Realism: rational or reasonable?

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Abstract

Realism has maintained its central role in International Relations theory throughout the post-1945 era, but the relative clarity of the realism of Carr and Morgenthau has been lost by the addition of several variant forms of the structural realism of Kenneth Waltz; moreover, while some liberals may have tempered their criticisms of realism, constructivist scholars have taken their place as opponents of the doctrine. In the books under review, Samuel Barkin attempts to reconcile constructivism to classical realism, while Charles Glaser has produced the most sophisticated account of structural realism since that of Waltz. Both books are well-reasoned and stimulating, but as yet constructivist realism has produced no substantive findings, while Glaser's account of states as rational egoists cannot underpin an account of the national interest which is sensitive to the reasonable interests of others.

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