chapter  9
44 Pages

Between a New World Order and None: Explaining the Reemergence of the United Nations in World Politics

This chapter has two purposes, one theoretical, the other empirical.1 First, I try to show that the divide between mainstream International Relations theory and so-called critical approaches is not as deep as many authors, including some in this book, assume. In particular, I argue that competing hypotheses can be derived from sophisticated rationalist approaches to world politics as well as from social constructivist assumptions and that these propositions can well be evaluated empirically. It follows that I disagree with the commonly held argument that the rationalist-constructivist divide pertains to both ontological (that is, substantive) and epistemological assumptions, as earlier work in the field claimed.2 Rationalists and social constructivists can well agree with the logic of the “ double hermeneutics” (Hans-Georg Gadamer; Anthony Giddens) and maintain that rigorous testing of competing assumptions is possible and that the resulting truth claims can be decided through the inter subjective discourses of the scholarly community. To denounce the latter as positivist is to ignore at least the last twenty years of epistemological debates in social sciences. This is not to deny that there is no epistemological divide. But this divide resides inside the social constructivist camp itself between those who maintain that truth claims can

be decided by intersubjective discourses and those who do not share that view (many poststructuralists).