International political theory: varieties of moral discourse

Menno R. Kamminga*

*Corresponding author for this work

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    This article aims to demonstrate the value of James Gustafson's 'varieties of moral discourse' typology for international political theory (IPT), or moral reflection about international politics. Gustafson's typology is defended as entailing an adequate conception of IPT through a threefold argument. First, the academic literature about international politics employs a diversity of modes of moral discourse as distinguished by Gustafson: ethical discourse, narrative discourse, prophetic discourse, and policy discourse. Second, each of these four types is distinctively important but also insufficient in IPT. Third, Gustafson's pluralist framework entails a conception of IPT that is superior to prevailing, more or less monist conceptions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)421-442
    Number of pages22
    JournalActa Politica
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Dec-2007


    • international political theory
    • varieties of moral discourse
    • international ethics
    • international relations theory
    • HARM

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