Recent breakthroughs in neuroscience have led to increasing concern about its uses in warfare. This article challenges the primacy of dual-use frameworks for posing ethical questions concerning the role of neuroscience in national security. It brings together three fields – critical war studies, bio-ethics, and the history of medicine – to argue that such frameworks too starkly divide ‘good’ and ‘bad’ military uses of neurotechnology, thus focusing on the degradation of human capacities without sufficiently accounting for human enhancement and soldier rehabilitation. It illustrates this through the emergence of diagnoses of Traumatic Brain Injury and Polytrauma in the context of post-9/11 counterinsurgency wars. The article proposes an alternative approach, highlighting the historical co-production and homology of modern war and medicine so as to grapple with how war shapes neuroscience, but also how neuroscience shapes war. The article suggests new routes for thinking through the connections between war, society, science, and technology, proposing that we cease analysis that assumes any fundamental separation between military and civilian life.
Why do individuals sacrifice themselves to defend a nation-state? This article emphasises the link between emotion and culture by investigating the affective reproduction of culture in world politics. Building on the tradition of Émile Durkheim, it introduces the concept of emotion culture to IR. Emotion cultures are understood as the culture-specific complex of emotion vocabularies, feeling rules, and beliefs about emotions and their appropriate expression that facilitates the cultural construction of political communities, such as the nation-state. It is argued that emotions provide a socio-psychological mechanism by which culture moves individuals to defend a nation-state, especially in times of war. By emotionally investing in the cultural structure of a nation-state, the individual aligns him/herself with a powerful cultural script, which then dominates over other available scripts. The argument is empirically illustrated by the case of the so-called Japanese kamikaze pilots.
The four books under review offer very different takes on the nature of International Political Theory, but still display certain, cross-cutting, similarities. The books under review are:
Jack L. Amoureux, A Practice of Ethics for Global Politics: Ethical Reflexivity (London: Routledge, 2016, 268pp. £90).
Michael W. Doyle, The Question of Intervention: John Stuart Mill & the Responsibility to Protect (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015, 272pp. £58.99).
Renée Jeffery, Reason and Emotion in International Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014, 252pp. £69.99).
Michael Walzer, The Paradox of Liberation: Secular Revolutions and Religious Counterrevolutions (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015, 172pp. £16.99).
This article argues that constructivism has not engaged with the concept of contingency sufficiently. While such noted constructivists as Onuf, Kratochwil, and Wendt often refer to ‘double contingency’, it is the concept of ‘norms’ rather than ‘contingency’ that is used to characterise constructivist theorising in International Relations (IR). In this article, I outline how moderate and radical constructivists differ in their take on norms and thereby establish how the problem of contingency is actually at the core of constructivist theorising. The discussion then shows how Kratochwil, Onuf, and Wendt have made use of double contingency while moderate constructivists have re-introduced the single actor to show how norms ‘cause’ action. The third part moves beyond the double contingency framework. By differentiating ‘the social’ from ‘society’, this section shows that a ‘third’ position can be identified. The concept of ‘triple contingency’ then could be a way ahead for the theoretical discussion on constructivism itself.
This article explores practices of writing deployed in an attempt (sometimes futile) to mitigate and interrogate the relationship between researcher and informant across the unequal relations of power, economic disparities, and cultural divides – factors that create a partial and committed position for the author. In the process, and through the lens of an ethnographic study of sexual-affective economies in contemporary Cuba, storytelling emerges as a method and methodology for International Relations that facilitates (re)presentation of interviews that are unstructured, contingent, and difficult. Storytelling as a method and methodology reveals the multiplicity, contingency, and uncertainty of the research process, questioning the incitements to detachment and objectivity on which IR methodologies are built. Thus, narrative writing proves invaluable for expressing how the international acts on bodies (and vice versa), and for relating personal experiences of repression and resistance, joy and pain, in an international frame. Far from a merely stylistic choice, storytelling bears real ethical and political implications – for the research produced and for the individual subjects implicated in its production. Along the way, practices of writing themselves come to the fore, as academic conventions fall away and stories surface. Storytelling itself thus elaborates on the possibilities inherent in more creative, less structured, and more interpretive writing across the field of international politics.
This article takes as its point of departure Stefano Guzzini’s recent call for ‘ontological theorizing’ as a reflexive engagement with central concepts. In an attempt to advance this agenda, the article presents an accessible overview of different approaches to concept analysis to stake out the field for a discussion of what ontological theorising might entail. The article advances the notion of concepts as ‘basic’ and lays out the parameters through which they obtain meaning, followed by a discussion of three approaches, which tackle the multifaceted nature of basic concepts within and across different contexts. These approaches are labelled ‘historical’, ‘scientific’ and ‘political(critical)’ and presented through the work of Reinhart Koselleck, Giovanni Sartori and Michel Foucault, respectively. The article notes that concept analysis, as discussed here, stands in tension with modern forms of theory building yet is a creative source for theorising that accepts the unstable, political and context-bound nature of ontology.
When Aafia Siddiqui ‘disappeared’ from her upper-middle class life in Boston in 2003 due to accusations that she was involved in al Qaeda, competing narratives from the US government, media, and her family emerged striving to convince the American public of her guilt or innocence. These narratives were rooted in a gendered form of neo-Orientalism that informed and structured the War on Terror. The narratives, of innocent Soccer Mom, nefarious Lady al Qaeda, and mentally fragile Grey lady, sought to explain how a well-educated woman could possibly be involved with a terrorist organisation. This article uses intertextual analysis to draw parallels between Gothic literature and the Siddiqui narratives. Gothic literature’s dependency upon gendered unease is particularly evident in the Siddiqui narratives, which then reveal the uncertainties within the War on Terror, particularly those related to American exceptionalism.
In this reply to Vassilios Paipais’s review of my Void Universalism books I focus on two main points of my disagreement with Paipais. The first concerns the possibility of deriving universalist axioms of world politics from the ontology of the void discussed in the first volume, Ontology and World Politics. While Paipais rejects such a possibility and posits a contentless ontology of the political, I argue that it is possible to derive from void ontology the political axioms of community, equality and freedom understood as attributes of indiscernible ‘whatever being’. The second pertains to the limitations on the world-political subject addressed in the second volume, Theory of the Political Subject. While Paipais is entirely correct in arguing that my notion of political subjectivity combines purism on the level of content with prudentialism with regard to form, I demonstrate that this combination is not a contradiction but is rather the precondition of politics as free praxis, whereby the politicisation of particular worlds in accordance with universal axioms always remains up to the subject.
Energy is becoming more and more important to state survival and economic development, and is increasingly considered an issue of ‘national security’. In 2005, the bid by China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) for US energy company Unocal was securitised by US elite actors, who called for presidential action on the grounds of ‘national security’. This article argues that securitisation of energy is problematic, as it impedes cooperation and encourages strategic and/or economic competition between states over energy supplies by tying energy to a national security ‘us vs. them’ scenario. Moreover, it limits the energy security debate. The article will use a securitisation approach to analyse the discourse of the Unocal affair, together with a smaller complementary case study of US–China cooperation on shale gas to show the possibility of dealing with energy in desecuritised terms. It argues that the current literature on energy ‘security’ analyses policy in overly simplistic competition/cooperation terms and fails to recognise the policy implications of securitising energy. In contrast, a securitisation approach to energy can explain the (re)presentation of energy as a policy issue and allows an analysis of how using particular discourse makes particular policy possible, while silencing alternative policy options. This has implications for policy-making in this area as energy policy/practice should be desecuritised.
Traditionally, just-war ethics tries to offer an answer to two distinct moral questions: when (if ever) is it morally permissible to start a war, and how should it be fought? For this specific purpose, just-war reasoning is divided into two parts. The jus ad bellum guides our moral thinking in initiating war; the jus in bello informs us on proper moral conduct during the hostilities. More recently, however, a number of authors have felt the need to add a third element to the just-war theory, that of the jus post bellum. A war, so it is argued, has a beginning, middle and end. There is no reason then why the termination and the longer term aftermath of the war should deserve less attention from a moral point of view. A lot more needs to be said and done before the jus post bellum will reach a comparable degree of substance and sophistication to the two other just-war parts. However, this is exactly what two recently published books on the subject – Eric Patterson’s Ethics beyond War’s End and Larry May’s After War Ends: A Philosophical Perspective – aim to do.
Deleuze’s legacy in the social sciences in general and in international studies in particular has been predominantly shaped by postmodernist and poststructuralist readings derived largely from American literary criticism. This has led to the proliferation of various Deleuzo-Guattarian terms such as rhizome and war machine, as well as an ill-defined ‘Deleuzian approach’. Although productive in their own way, such readings of Deleuze’s philosophy obscure a profound and elegant theory (or super-theory) of the world that offers considerable innovations in efforts to explain and understand the complex and integrated world we live in. The article argues for a reading of Deleuze’s work committed to his univocal ontology and his metaphysical system of the virtual and the actual. It is argued that this approach addresses some of the most vexing questions of international studies and suggests methodologically sound avenues of further study.
Today’s dominant discourses of international development increasingly focus on human agency as the measure of development in terms of individual capabilities. The individualised understanding of development takes a ‘human-centred’ or ‘agent-orientated’ view of the barriers to development. This article seeks to critically engage with the view of the human and of human agency articulated within this approach. In this discourse, development is taken out of a macro-political-economy context, in which development policies are shaped by social and political pressures or state-led policies. Foucault’s insights on the rearticulation of power – shifting from the state-based, sovereign and disciplinary approaches of government ruling over society, towards the biopolitical or ‘human-centred’ approaches of governance through social processes – will be used to critically engage with the capabilities approach. This article genealogically draws out the changing nature of Western discourses of development and the understanding of policy practices as promoting the empowerment of the post-colonial other in order to examine how development and autonomy have been radically differently articulated in discourses of Western power and how today’s discursive framing feeds on and transforms colonial and early post-colonial approaches to the human subject.
In this review article, I suggest that the books under review should be conceived of as trailblazers of an emerging debate in international political theory. They all innovatively apply the concept of constituent power to the international realm and thereby contribute to establishing a new principle for the democratic legitimacy of international institutions. I argue that we should aim to develop a systematic theory of constituent power beyond the state because such a tool could considerably enhance the analytical categories of our research on democratic legitimacy beyond the state. Furthermore, I propose research questions for this new field of study, concerning conceptual, methodological and institutional aspects, and in turn apply these to the different conceptions of an international pouvoir constituant presented in the volumes under review in order to discuss their strengths and weaknesses.