The Ethics of the New Liberalism

Gerry Simpson

in The Oxford Handbook of International Relations

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199219322
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:


 The Ethics of the New Liberalism

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This article considers three key new liberal texts in order to untangle some of the key propositions of new liberalism. These are Andrew Moravcsik's Taking Preferences Seriously (1997), Anne-Marie Slaughter's A New World Order (2004), and the recent Princeton Project's Forging a World of Liberty under Law (Ikenberry and Slaughter 2006). The first text represents new liberalism's methodological blueprint; it is a persuasive, widely read, and considered piece of theorizing that seeks to position new liberalism alongside the great ‘isms’ of international relations theory. The second text seeks to describe a world already transformed by the norms and institutions produced by liberal law and politics. This represents a move from the sometimes dry theorizing of Moravcsik to a more popular normativism. The third text marks the first explicit effort to present new liberal theory as government policy. Forging a World of Liberty self-consciously mimics the style and intentions of the George W. Bush administration's two National Security Strategies (e.g., White House 2006). This prospectus for US foreign policy combines the feel-good normativity of new world order with a hard-headed pragmatism about violence and war; it as an approximation of what new liberal foreign relations might look like.

Keywords: liberal theory; Taking Preferences Seriously; Andrew Moravcsik; Anne-Marie Slaughter; A New World Order; international relations theory; U.S. foreign policy; normativity

Article.  5310 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations ; Political Theory

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