chapter  2
Identity, morality, and social action
Pages 23

At one time international politics was thought to be a realm devoid of

morality. Anarchy begot the need to survive, the need to survive begot self-

help, and the fear of a sucker’s payoff marginalized inter-state cooperation

and ethical behavior. This view has changed only slightly, with a ‘‘normative

turn’’ in IR recognizing the limited importance of values, norms, ideas, and

ethics.1 Thus IR theorists amended the theoretical sequence by under-

standing the international realm as a community or society of states that

observed principles and rules within anarchy. States responded, in turn, to international signals, regimes, institutions, rules, and principles that pulled

them in a direction that allowed for a limited, but significant, place for

moral action. Thus, the nation-state that acted morally did so because of its

membership in a society that was constituted by an intersubjective web of

meanings. States mutually agreed upon rules that, when reciprocally

observed, allowed them to pursue certain self-interested goals. The possibi-

lity that states possessed normative concerns that were internally generated,

that they had a selfish interest in ‘‘acting morally,’’ was a possibility largely ignored by IR theory.