Journal of International Relations and Development

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 272–300 | Cite as

‘Eavesdropping on honored ghosts’: from classical to reflexive realism

  • Brent J Steele


While the practice of reinventing realism is by no means novel, recent reinventions have taken a decidedly reflexive turn. This article examines how three particular scholars — Anthony Lang, Michael Williams, and Richard Ned Lebow — have revived some important and relatively obscured principles from classical realists, thereby recovering some practical ethics important for contemporary world politics. The article outlines the principles held in common by this scholarship. Reflexive realism has also resurrected and re-emphasized a once obscured critical voice of realists like Hans Morgenthau. In the process, it has served as a launching pad for a serious critique of eschatological-based philosophy, including neoconservatism. Several avenues for the future development of reflexive realism are also identified.


critical theory international relations theory realism reflexivity 


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© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brent J Steele
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA

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