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Rationalism (international relations)

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Title: Rationalism (international relations)  
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Subject: International relations theory, Classical realism (international relations), Constructivism (international relations), Critical international relations theory, Feminism (international relations)
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Rationalism (international relations)

International relations theory
Politics portal

Rationalism in politics is often seen as the midpoint in the three major political viewpoints of realism, rationalism, and internationalism. Whereas Realism and Internationalism are both on ends of the scale, rationalism tends to occupy the middle ground on most issues, and finds compromise between these two conflicting points of view.


Believers of Rationalism believe that international law making procedures and that the use of force can be avoided in resolving disputes.[1]

Rationalists tend to see the rule of law and order as being equally important to states as it helps reduce conflicts. This in turn helps states become more willing to negotiate treaties and agreements where it best suits their interests. However, they see it as wrong for a nation to promote its own national interests, reminiscent of Internationalism, but that there is already a high level of order in the international system without a world government.[1]

Views on sovereignty

Rationalists believe that states have a right to sovereignty, particularly over territory, but that this sovereignty can be violated in exceptional circumstances, such as human rights violations.

In situations such as that of United Nations would come in and decide whether the situation is exceptional enough to warrant a violation of that state's sovereignty.[1]

Comparison to other political perspectives


Realists believe that states act independently of each other and that states' sovereignty is effectively sacred. Rationalists agree to a certain extent. However, as stated previously, rationalism includes sovereignty as a vital factor, but not as untouchable and 'sacred'.

Realists also hold the European Union and the United Nations, the international system is less anarchic than Realists claim.[2]


Internationalists believe in a [1]

Applied rationalism

United Nations reform

It is believed that the proposals for reform of the United Nations come from rationalist thoughts and points of view. This belief is held because most members of the UN agree that the UN requires reform, in the way of expanding or abolishing the Security Council and granting it more powers to violate sovereignty if necessary.[1]


Some figures who consider themselves as 'rationalist' include:


  1. ^ a b c d e Scott, Derek; Simpson, Anna-Louise (2008). Power and International Politics. Social Education Victoria. 
  2. ^ "Political Philosophy". Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  3. ^ "Habermas, Jürgen". Retrieved 03-06-2009. 
  4. ^ "Australian Humanists of the Year". Retrieved 03-06-2009. 
  5. ^ Lynch, March (July 25, 2005). "IR: Constructivism v Rationalism". Abu Aardvark. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
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