Varieties of Realism: Thucydides and Machiavelli

  • Forde S
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Abstract

Realists have dominated the postwar study of international politics, but they have not always taken seriously the problems of realism as a moral theory. One such problem is the difficulty of reconciling realism with devotion to ethics in any sphere, including domestic politics. This problem was taken seriously by two originators of the realist school, Thucydides and Machiavelli. I explore the thought of these two authors with special attention to their views of the relation of international realism to general ethical skepticism and to domestic politics in particular. Examining their respective views of international realism, of the origin of societies, of the overall relation between justice and amoral necessity, I conclude that while for Machiavelli international realism is only a part of a more general ethical skepticism. Thucydides tries to manage a difficult if not tragic tension between the requirements of international realism and domestic morality. CR - Copyright © 1992 Southern Political Science Association

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Authors

  • Steven Forde

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