Political Practices: Problematising the Issue or Bowing to It?

Political Practices:
Problematising the Issue or Bowing to It?




DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2020.05.13

For citation:

Gudalov N.N. Political Practices: Problematising the Issue or Bowing to It? – Polis. Political Studies. 2020. No. 5. P. 177-185. (In Russ.). https://doi.org/10.17976/jpps/2020.05.13



Abstract

This review was prompted by the publication of John Gunnell’s latest book, “Conventional Realism and Political Inquiry: Channeling Wittgenstein.” (Chicago, London: The University of Chicago Press, 2020). Theoretically and methodologically, his approach develops the popular current agenda of practical and linguistic turns, and also illustrates well its drawbacks. The review aims to identify the contribution of Gunnell’s work and problems in this context. We fulfilled three objectives – reviewing the book’s main ideas; its particular shortcomings; and the problems representative of the aforementioned broad topic. The first two objectives are fulfilled in parallel, followed by the third. Drawing on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s ideas, Gunnell unfolds his position of ‘conventional realism’ as applied to politics. Gunnell systematically showed that politics largely resides in human collective linguistic practices, which are plural and changeable. They cannot be reduced to any dogmatic paradigm abusing the rhetoric of metaphysics, ‘the natural’, or ‘science’ to justify a specific policy. The making of multiple practices and their change manifest humanity’s collective creative freedom; it also implies their responsibility. However, we note the vulnerability of the general idea, which overstates the unity of thinking and language. Three closely related, representative problems directly concerning politics are shown. The first and broadest one is a combination of trivialness and relativism. It is not clear enough how to compare different practices and grasp relations between them, and the risks remain of reifying the social ‘given’ or trivially noting an arbitrary ‘switch’ between ‘givens’; more attention should be paid to conceptions of rationality that are critical, and neither relativist nor dogmatic. The second problem lies in lessening the role of philosophy and political science in a rational and critical assessment of political practices. The third issue is that Gunnell himself firstly criticised the grounding of practices by scholars, but then largely made the same mistake himself by defending the normative benchmark of democracy. 

Keywords
political theory, international relations theory, political philosophy, language, practice, John Gunnell, Ludwig Wittgenstein.


References

Audi R. 2002. The Architecture of Reason: The Structure and Substance of Rationality. New York: Oxford University Press. 286 p.

Ball T. 1985. Hobbes’ Linguistic Turn. – Polity. Vol. 17. No. 4. P. 739-760.

Buzan B., Waver O., de Wilde J. 1998. Security: a New Framework for Analysis. Boulder, London: Lynne Rienner Publishers. 240 p.

Cox R. 1981. Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory. – Millennium. Vol. 10. No. 2. P. 126-155.

Cox R. 2002. Vico, Then and Now. – Cox R. with Schechter M. The Political Economy of a Plural World.

Critical Reflections on Power, Morals and Civilization. Abingdon, New York: Routledge. P. 44-56.

Cox R. 2012. For Someone and for Some Purpose. An Interview with Robert W. Cox. – Critical Theory in International Relations and Security Studies. Interviews and reflections. Ed. by S. Brincat, L. Lima, J. Nunes. Abingdon, New York: Routledge. P. 15-34.

Davidson D. 1973. Radical Interpretation. – Dialectica. Vol. 27. No. 3-4. P. 313-328.

International Practices. 2011. Ed. by E. Adler, V. Pouliot. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 388 p.

Fierke K.M. 2002. Links Across the Abyss: Language and Logic in International Relations. – International Studies Quarterly. Vol. 46. No. 3. P. 331-354. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2478.00236

Garver E. 1978. Rhetoric and Essentially Contested Arguments. – Philosophy & Rhetoric. Vol. 11. No. 3. P. 156-172.

Gunnell J. 2020. Conventional Realism and Political Inquiry: Channeling Wittgenstein. Chicago, London: The University of Chicago Press. 194 p. https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226661308.001.0001

Haddock B. 2011. Contingency and judgement in history of political philosophy: a phenomenological approach. – Political Philosophy versus History? Contextualism and Real Politics in Contemporary Political Thought. Ed. by J. Floyd, M. Stears. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. P. 65-83.

Jackson P. 2004. Hegel’s House, or ‘People are States Too’. – Review of International Studies. Vol. 30. No. 2. P. 281-287. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0260210504006072

Kant I. 2016. Uber den Gemeinspruch: Das mag in der Theorie richtig sein, taugt aber nicht fur die Praxis. Hrsg. K.-M. Guth. Berlin: Contumax-Hofenberg. 56 S.

Krook D. 1956. Thomas Hobbes’s Doctrine of Meaning and Truth. – Philosophy. Vol. 31. No. 116. P. 3-22.

Lamb R. 2019. Pragmatism, Practices, and Human Rights. – Review of International Studies. Vol. 45. No. 4. P. 550-568. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0260210519000111

Lechner S., Frost M. 2018. Practice Theory and International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 258 p. https://www.doi.org/10.1017/9781108645775

O’Neill O. 2003. Four Models of Practical Reasoning. – O’Neill. O. Bounds of Justice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. P. 11-28.

 

Alekseeva T.A. 2018. “The Starting Point”: History of the Theory of International Relations as a New Sub Discipline. – Journal of Law and Administration. No. 3. P. 69-79. (In Russ.) https://www.doi.org/10.24833/2073-8420-2018-3-48-69-79

Zolyan S.T. 2018. “Doublethink” and Semiotics of Political Discourse. – Polis. Political Studies. No. 3. P. 93-109. (In Russ.) https://doi.org/10.17976/jpps/2018.03.07

Ivanova N.A. 2017. Social Reality in the Perspective of Practical Turn. – Tomsk State University Journal of Philosophy, Sociology and Political Science. No. 37. P. 214-222. (In Russ.) https://www.doi.org/10.17223/1998863X/37/21 

Content No. 5, 2020

See also:


Inoguchi T.,
Political theory. – Polis. Political Studies. 2012. No3

Alekseyeva T.A., Lebedeva M.M.,
What Is Happening to the Theory of International Relations. – Polis. Political Studies. 2016. No1

Alekseyeva T.A.,
Political philosophy as «Usable» knowledge. – Polis. Political Studies. 2010. No1

Menshikov A.S.,
How to theorize politics?. – Polis. Political Studies. 2010. No1

Konyshev V.N., Sergunin A.A.,
International relations theory: on the threshold of new «Great Debates»?. – Polis. Political Studies. 2013. No2

 

   

Introducing an article



Polis. Political Studies
2 2014


Polyakov L.V.
Decline of plebiscitary democracy?

  Полный текст
 

Archive

   2023      2022      2021   
   2020      2019      2018      2017      2016   
   2015      2014      2013      2012      2011   
   2010      2009      2008      2007      2006   
   2005      2004      2003      2002      2001   
   2000      1999      1998      1997      1996   
   1995      1994      1993      1992      1991