A normative enquiry in international relations: the case of 'pacta sunt servanda'

Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-54
Number of pages20
JournalReview of International Studies
Issue number01
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 1983
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A study of ethics must be regarded as incomplete if it does not offer tools for analysing moral problems arising in the international context, particularly in an age of growing interdependence between the peoples of the world. Similarly, a study of international relations must be thought to be imperfect if it leaves out normative questions.

To this it may be objected that International Relations is an empirical discipline, and that it can legitimately leave normative considerations to moral philosophers. However, such a division of labour is unfortunately more likely to result in mere division rather than efficient co-operation. Moreover, international relations, the subject-matter, is logically, as well as historically, prior to International Relations, the academic discipline. Therefore, a study of international relations, undertaken by International Relations experts, cannot be claimed to be complete if it neglects those aspects of the subject-matter which have occupied the minds of many thinkers who do not consider themselves as IR specialists.