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The historiography of academic international relations*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 October 2009


Throughout the 1980s and continuing into the 1990s the academic discipline of international relations has witnessed a prolonged period of intense intellectual ferment about the contemporary identity of the field. The significance of this academic controversy is evidenced by the designation that it most fundamentally represents the discipline's third ‘Great Debate’. The importance of the third debate to a field characteristically immune from meta-theoretical self-reflection has been aptly acknowledged by those who recognize the changed nature of philosophical and theoretical inquiry in the post-positivist age. The variety of contending classifications that have been put forth to elucidate the overall character of the third debate is but another indication of the considerable importance that scholars have attached to the outcome of this dispute as we approach the next millennium.

Research Article
Copyright © British International Studies Association 1994

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1 On the third debate in general, see Maghroori, Ray and Ramberg, Bennett, Globalism Versus Realism: International Relations Third Debate (Boulder, 1982)Google Scholar; Banks, Michael, ‘The Inter-Paradigm Debate’, in Light, Margot and Groom, A. J. R. (eds.), International Relations A Handbook of Current Theory (London, 1985)Google Scholar; Banks, Michael, ‘Where We Are Now’, Review of International Studies, 11 (1985), pp. 215–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar; George, Jim, ‘International Relations and the Search for Thinking Space: Another View of the Third Debate’, International Studies Quarterly, 33 (1989), pp. 269–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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64 See Alker, Hayward R. Jr., ‘The Humanistic Moment in International Studies: Reflections on Machiavelli and las Casas’, International Studies Quarterly, 36 (1992), pp. 347–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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