Hedley Bull - The Anarchical Term Paper

Length: 10 pages Sources: 5 Subject: Government Type: Term Paper Paper: #60085000 Related Topics: Food Politics, Arms Control, Global Governance, Third World Countries
Excerpt from Term Paper :

Those strategies would include organizing themselves politically to address it "less to security against external threats" than to the emphasis on "civil freedom" within its own borders. Hence, Harris's point is that Kant delved into the moral side of the issue. As for the classical utilitarian point-of-view, Harris points to James Mill, who put forward the notion that a "properly educated electorate in a democratic polity" would push its government to do the proper thing; and what would be considered proper or "right," as Harris puts it, would be determined by an "international tribunal of cognoscenti" (Harris 726).

With those two highly respected thinkers' views as backdrop, Harris moves into Bull's strategies and theories. Bull was "arguably" among the most "distinguished theorists of international relations since Kant," Harris states, and Bull was known for organizing his work around the idea of "Order" - which he treated as a "value and as a fact" (Harris 726). That having been said, and Bull having been praised lavishly, Harris goes on to describe Bull's work as "ambiguous." Harris believes Bull's sense of order was based on order as a value, but that value was not positioned "within an ethical explanation nor isolated from a specific" (727). This flaw, if it can be called a flaw, was based on the fact that Bull's treatment of the history of international theory "is rather weaker than might be supposed" and also Bull's account of ethics was "almost entirely phenomenological rather than explanatory."

After setting the stage for his criticism of Bull, Harris launches a rather esoteric critique of the weaknesses in Bull's sense of order and society. Harris on page 727 writes that order can be seen not as a concept but as a fact, and he agrees with Bull that the primary goals of social order can be defined as order. And "society" to Bull - and Harris agrees here too - is not just the people living within any given nation, but there is a larger society "among the states themselves," and this larger society exists because of the "common interest and corresponding rules" within each state's society. Hence, to develop his counterpoint to Bull's point, Harris points to the three rules that govern states' societies (and by implication the global society); one, rules to identify the idea of an international society; two, rules that define the principle of political organization; the three, those rules that relate to "coexistence" and to "cooperation" (728).

And so this order that Bull has defined and carefully crafted must be more than a fact, Harris asserts; it must also be a value. And therein lies a flaw in Bull's work, Harris writes, since the way in which Bull has organized his book (the anarchical society) leaves doubt about order being both fact and value. One could say here that Harris appears to be splitting hairs, but at this level of social science criticism, Harris seems to be making a salient point. That is, if indeed order is a value and a fact of international relations, where does the value part of order fit into any ethical explanation? On page 729 Harris - who in the previous pages seemed to prove to himself that order is a value - states that Bull's failure to clarify why order "is to be accounted a value" leaves Bull's theory incomplete. Over and over in his essay, Harris bends over backwards to praise Bull; and in the next paragraph Harris takes Bull to task for such things as constructing his philosophical approach to order "oddly" (740).

And clearly Harris's respect for Bull is so great that at the conclusion of his essay he remarks that the "shortcomings of the anarchical society" cannot be pinned entirely on the author, but rather on "...the character of the matters which are laid bare" through examination of what the author's contentions were (740). In other words, Bull isn't entirely to blame for some of the flaws or omissions in his book; it is the inherent difficulty in coming to terms with the dynamics of international order that is also partly to blame. And in any event, "whatever one's judgment of Bull's specific conclusions," Harris writes (741), there is nonetheless "an enduring relevance in the spirit of his thought." Harris leaves readers with a analysis" (Tucker 692). However, Tucker does say that Bull's postulates about nation-state dynamics "beg the inclusion of more supportive evidence" as well as perhaps a more "rigorous examination" than he offered in the anarchical society. Tucker does also take Bull to task for not providing any deep critique of "arms control." It is a "disappointment" that "so renowned a strategic theorist" as Bull would not share his ideas about the states' control / use of arms "...either as a central aspect of mutual nuclear deterrence" or as a "modality for expressing and enhancing superpower detente" (692).

Having said that, Tucker adds that Bull's "richness of style and substance" does indeed provide "much food for thought" for scholars and students alike. It seems that Bull was such a giant in his genre that while his work does show some gaps in coverage (and indeed it's the task of scholars to locate gaps, be they large or small), critics fall all over themselves to assure readers that Bull's thinking and writing offers far more than the ordinary intellectually-driven analysis. Tucker respects the fact that Bull conceptualizes "alternative traditions in world politics" (the "Hobbesian" and the "Kantian"); in the Hobbesian approach Bull sees that in the past many insecure states have tended to "gravitate toward a 'state of war'"; and in the Kantian approach "transnational loyalties and divisions vie with the nation-state in their attempts to create new universal orders" (Tucker 692). So there is the push and pull between aggressive behavior and the attempt to find a more peaceful solution, and in that regard Bull insists that there is a tendency of states to "value order" and hence reject the Hobbesian tradition.

Still, Bull may be fairly "faulted," Tucker concludes, for not bringing forward "stronger evidence" to back up his assertion that "contemporary Kantian tendencies are only 'awkward facts' for the traditional state-centric theory of world politics" (Tucker 692).

Still another scholarly critique of Bull's work - not only the Anarchical Society but also his other influential essays and books - is Samuel M. Makinda, whose essay is published in the Australian Journal of International Affairs (Makinda 2002). Makinda introduces his essay with agreeable allusions to the facts of Bull's presentation - that "order" is a fact of social life but also a "moral value" that states and citizens desired - and then on page 362 he points out that Bull divided the concept of "justice' into three important categories. Those categories are international, individual and cosmopolitan; the first defined "the moral rules held to confer rights and duties upon states"; Bull's second, individual justice, according to Makinda, was "the moral rules, conferring rights and duties upon individual human beings"; and cosmopolitan justice was "...ideas which seek to spell out what is right or good for the world as a whole..." (Makinda 362).

And because Bull was a man who "scaled several conceptual peaks" in his effort to define and shape an orderly approach to international relations (IR), any effort to "pin him down" to any specific paradigm "is likely to be futile," Makinda writes (362). There are those who say that Bull viewed the "house of International Relations" as having "many mansions" and having a variety of worldviews - albeit each was coherent. And other scholars say - and this emerges as a theme among critics - that Bull was hard to pin down, hard to pigeonhole, and hence he wore many hats and those hats changed color and shape as the years went by.

On some occasions Bull deployed realist arguments against liberals," Makinda asserts on page 363; and on other occasions, Bull used "liberal arguments against realists." Does that make Bull less credible? Not necessarily, because Bull recognized the fluid dynamics within international politics, and Bull also believed that "realism, rationalism, and liberalism overlapped" (Makinda 363).…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Bull, Hedley. 1977. The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics. New York:

Harris, Ian. 1993. Order and Justice in 'The anarchical society.' International Affairs, 69, 725-

Hoffman, Stanley. 1986. Hedley Bull and his contributions to international relations.

International Affairs, 62 (Spring): 179-188.

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