Political realism and anarchy in international relations

Prolegomena 10 (1):113-130 (2011)
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In this paper I critically examine an influential argument in favor of political realism. The argument claims that international relations, by analogy with Hobbes’s state of nature at the individual level, are governed by anarchy which makes it irrational for states to observe the principles of morality and justice since there are no guarantees that they will be observed by other states. However, this analogy is unsustainable due to the differences that exist between agents on the international and individual levels. Compared to the insecurity of the state of nature, the level of insecurity of international relations is lower, which makes it possible for co-operation between states to be established. This conclusion is additionally corroborated by insights of the game theories, especially those of iterated prisoner’s dilemma.
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