Tuesday, January 4, 2011

On International Relations Theory

In response to David Henderson, http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2011/01/reply_to_my_cri.html#127442

may I submit that Henderson's perspective seems based on the premise that countries are moral actors in the same sense as individuals. Country A does something to Country B in the same sense as Bill does something to John. Whether applying the standards of interpersonal morality to international relations is suitable depends on whether you think countries are moral actors. I do not. Are a nation's "actions" not better understood as the outcome of social, political and economic exchanges by less abstract social actors, all the way down to the level of individual agents? These actions, of course, cannot be treated as aggregates of individual choices as these social actors are often in conflict with one another. And if so, can we not agree to give up on the principle of a universal moral standard for international relations?

Do as thou whilst, and that shall be the whole of (international) law.

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