Tragedy, politics, and political science
It is a great pleasure to participate in a thoughtful symposium on an important topic. My reading of Frost, Mayall, and Rengger indicates a broad area of agreement concerning the likelihood that complicated policies, domestic or foreign, are likely to have unintended, largely negative consequences. These authors believe that such problems are more likely in a world characterized by competing ethical perspectives. Frost is more optimistic than either Mayall or Rengger that a transformation of the international system is nevertheless possible. Drawing on Oakeshott’s rejoinder and correspondence with Morgenthau, Rengger questions the utility of tragedy to transcend the arts and make a useful contribution to the practice and study of international relations. My own position is closest to Frost’s, and the reasons for this will be apparent in the course of “unpacking” this debate.