A Practice of Ethics for Global Politics: Ethical Reflexivity, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

A Practice of Ethics for Global Politics

Ethical Reflexivity, 1st Edition

By Jack L. Amoureux


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Paperback: 9781138298439
pub: 2017-06-07
Hardback: 9780415746908
pub: 2015-10-02
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315797380
pub: 2015-10-05
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What kind of ethics in world politics is possible if there is no foundation for moral knowledge or global reality is at least complex and contingent? Furthermore, how can an ethics grapple with difference, a persistent and confounding feature for global politics? This book responds to the call for a bold and creative approach to ethics that avoids assuming or aspiring to universality, and instead prioritizes difference, complexity and uncertainty by turning to reflexivity, not as method or methodology, but as a practice of ethics for politics.

This practice, ‘ethical reflexivity’, offers individuals, organizations and communities tools to recognize, interrogate and potentially change the stories they tell about politics—about constraints, notions of responsibility and visions of desirability. The benefits and limits of ethical reflexivity are investigated by the author, who engages writing on critique, rhetoric, affect and relationality, and carefully considers dominant and alternative framings of difficult issues in International Relations (IR)—the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and the US policies of ‘enhanced interrogation’ and drone strikes. This path-breaking study provokes new possibilities for agency and action and contributes to a growing literature in IR on reflexivity by uniquely elaborating its promise as an ethics for politics, and by drawing on thinkers less utilized in discussions of reflexivity such as Hannah Arendt, Michel Foucault and Aristotle.

This book will appeal to scholars and upper-level graduates in several sub-fields of IR, including international/global ethics, IR theory, global governance, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, foreign policy analysis and US foreign policy.


'Amoureux deftly enriches the intellectual terrain on ethical reflexivity not merely as scholarly thought, but as a practice for politics. This book is an absolute must read for anyone who wants to understand how identity, subjectivity, and agency are foundational to contemporary thinking on ethics and morality in global politics.' - Elizabeth Dauphinee, Department of Political Science, York University, Toronto, Canada

'The strength of Jack Amoureux’s important book lies in its combination of a sophisticated account of Aristotelian reflexivity and the figure of the global ethical agent (phronimos) with a close, micro-political, reading of hard cases emerging from the Rwanda genocide and the War on Terror. The author does not simply preach ethical reflexivity, he practices what he preaches' - Chris Brown, Emeritus Professor, London School of Economics, UK

'International Relations desperately needs a book like this right now, with a general malaise and cynicism emerging after the disastrous 2000s regarding how to approach global ethical dilemmas. The result has been either intellectual nihilism or a guarded use of modest proposals towards ethics. Jack Amoureux’s forceful call for ethical reflexivity breaks through this fog, charting a path for scholars to recognize not only their reflexive roles in the construction of global politics but how to additionally analyze the dilemmas and practices of global politics in their work. Examining drones, torture, and genocide, ethical reflexivity emerges as a theoretically sophisticated approach with micropolitical implications. This book is just as much an inspiration as a theoretical contribution in a time when IR theory desperately needs the former to make the latter possible.' - Brent J. Steele, Francis D. Wormuth Presidential Chair and Professor of Political Science, University of Utah, USA

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements. Introduction To ‘Work on our Limits’ through ‘Permanent Critique’ 1 Aristotelian Reflexivity 2 Giddens’ Reflexive Modernity, Arendt’s Inner Dialogue, and Foucault’s ‘Critical Ontology’ of Ourselves 3 The Global Phronimos 4 Living in and beyond Genocide in Rwanda 5 ‘An Ethical Train Wreck’? Enhanced Interrogation in the U.S. War on Terror 6 The Silences of Private Judgment: Drone Practices, Criticism at Home and Abroad, and the Failure to Respond. Some Closing Thoughts on Behalf of Authorial Reflexivity. Index

About the Author

Jack L Amoureux is a Teacher-Scholar Postdoctoral Fellow at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He previously taught at American University in Washington, DC.

About the Series

New International Relations

The field of international relations has changed dramatically in recent years, with new subject matter being brought to light and new approaches from in and out of the social sciences being tried out. This series offers itself as a broad church for innovative work that aims to renew the discipline.


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