This book has been based on the recognition that worldviews are necessary. They frame the domain of international relations, and provide the conceptual language and fundamental assumptions (both ontological and evaluative) on the basis of which specific phenomena and patterned relationships are explained via empirical theory. As is increasingly recognized in the field, contemporary IR theory exhibits a wide variety of competing worldviews. To be sure, they are not all mutually exclusive. Productive conversations can and have taken place between realists and liberals over the dynamics of cooperation among states and the conditions for regime maintenance in a variety of issue areas. There is some overlap between Marxism and critical theory. Similarly, feminism is a multidimensional worldview in which liberals, radicals and poststructuralists engage in dialogue with one another. IR theory in the twenty-first century is therefore inextricably pluralistic. Pluralism, however, is not necessarily to be valued if it glosses over the balkanization of the field into what Kornprobst (2009: 88) calls ‘burgeoning sub-communities … instead of a lively community of scholars’. In this book I have tried to rethink IR theory as an ongoing great debate generated by the paradoxes and contradictions of liberal internationalism.
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