Critical Theory In International Relations

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The aim of this essay is to critically outline and evaluate Critical Theory and how it is applied in the sphere of International Relations (referred to from this point as IR). Critical Theory is one of many lenses through which one can view and interpret interaction between nations; others include Realism, Liberalism, Structuralism and Post-Modernism. Contained within this essay will be detailed analysis of the ideas and thinkers which have shaped Critical Theory, as well as criticisms of the theory and key differences between this theory and other prevalent IR thought. The fundamental concept behind Critical Theory is suggested in its name: Critical Theory. Critical Theorists believe that all knowledge is biased and that philosophies and…show more content…
He believed that ‘[this] participation … [was] not to be confined within the borders of a particular sovereign state’ (Baylis, Smith, and Owens, 2011, p.142). This meant that for Habermas each international actor should have the right to be heard and included in international affairs – and if not, measures were to be taken to ensure they would be in future. Critical Theory applied to an international context would mean the examination of changes which either unite or separate members of sovereign states from the world. (Linklater in Smith, Booth, and Zalewski, 1996,…show more content…
Linklater’s view is that knowledge can be the basis for ‘unsatisfactory social arrangements’ (Linklater in Smith, Booth, and Zalewski, 1996, p.279), so, through the assessment of this knowledge, the roles can be reversed (so to say), and intellect and insight can be used to advance society. While this idea seems to lack a clear plan of action and leaves us wondering how exactly one would go about nurturing such ideas, it is still an important conversation point in Critical Theory discourse. A final Critical Theorist examined in terms of what they contributed to the conversation on Critical Theory is Robert Cox. Cox has famously said ‘theory is always for someone and for some purpose’ (Burchill, Linklater, and Devetak, 2009, p.163). He denies that facts and values can be separated, as followers of Problem-Solving-Theory would claim. This is one of the few ideas that Critical Theorists can unanimously agree on i.e. that knowledge is
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