Normative Politics and the Community of Nations

Haskell Fain
Book Cover

HC: $37.95
EAN: 978-0-87722-476-1
Publication: Jun 87

272 pages

Proposes an alternative theory to contractarianism, one that does not assume that war is normal


As in no previous age, the fate of the earth is today dependent upon the maintenance of peaceful relationships between nations. Standard contractarian political theory presupposes that, in the absence of world government, international relations must take place in a warlike environment. This book demonstrates why contractarianism can no longer serve as an adequate model for international politics and presents an alternative theory, one which does not assume that war is normal.

Concerned with the problems involved in applying moral theory to international relations, Fain addresses the dilemma created when actions required of a government by its treaty obligations are in conflict with obligations to its own citizens. In exploring this question, he discusses various theories of international law, political community, and the nature of the state. Treating major political philosophers of the past and the present, Fain argues that pacts with other nations must take precedence over domestic considerations.

Certainly, a peaceful international environment can exist only when citizens and statesmen believe one possible. Fain here offers us more than another call for nuclear sanity. He presents us with a new political understanding, a normative foundation for international politics in which the existence of war is no longer seen as a necessary feature of the relationship between nations.


"Brilliant, engaging...Fain takes on the major traditions in political philosophy and effectively shows their philosophical and nonnative insufficiency...Fain has treated the positions he is opposing fairly, and presented their approaches accurately and in appropriate depth Beyond this, (he) depicts a very promising alternate position This is a splendid scholarly performance on a topic of great moment."
Richard Falk, Princeton University

About the Author(s)

Haskell Fain is Professor of Philosophy and former Chairperson at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of Between Philosophy and History and has lectured widely in the United States and abroad.