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The Six Principles of Political Realism' by Hans Morgenthau - Term Paper Example

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The Six Principles of Political Realism' by Hans Morgenthau

Morgenthau has been criticised by many on the basis of his indistinct use of language and unsatisfactory scientific rigor, however his successive revisions and updates resulted in the “Six principles of political realm” in the 1954 revision (Scheuerman). The principles depict Morgenthau’s own political struggle and insight and they have been used by most of the international scholars to describe the international politics since 1945. Morgenthau states in his first principle, “Political realism believes that politics, like society in general, is governed by objective laws that have their roots in human nature” (Morgenthau). Morgenthau highlights that human nature does not change regardless of any attempts made to impose laws or policies against the human preferences. International politics can be applied only after the facts have been tested by rationale and reasoning. Otherwise they would be rejected by the laws of nature itself. For a theory to be accepted in reality, it has to contain both ascertaining facts which are given meaning through reason. Political power is explained as a psychological relation between those who exercise it and those over whom it is exercised (Scheuerman). To understand the objective laws of politics it is important to study the history of human relations, as it is the fundamental base of the political facts and policies. The theory of politics holds its roots in human nature and hence the laws of human nature apply to the political laws as well. Morgenthau states, “Hence, novelty is not necessarily a virtue in political theory, nor is old age a defect”. Morgenthau elaborates that human nature has not exhibited any change of behaviour with the passage of time and similarly the laws of politics are not subjected to get out dated or obsolete only because they are old and ancient. Only the notion, that a theory was developed hundreds of years ago does not alter its credibility or integrity. As in human nature, old age is not a defect; political theories are not subjected to presumptions of being outmoded. Conversely, an innovative theory cannot be accepted only on the grounds of its newness or modernization. It is because of these aspects of the political theory that it has to be tested irrespective of it being outmoded or innovative. “A theory of politics must be subjected to the dual test of reason and experience” (Morgenthau). The dual test is of both reasoning and experience. For realism, a theory cannot be rejected merely on the basis that it is old without presenting rationale and reasoning. Inability to do so would be only an example of modernistic prejudice. Hence, a foreign policy can only be labelled as acceptable when its ability to perform political acts as well as the predictable consequences have been determined and tested. Morgenthau establishes that there is one morality for the private sphere and a very different and separate one for the public sphere. The political ethics and private ethics are not similar and they should not be reduced into one another. He states, “Yet while the individual has a moral right to sacrifice himself in defence of such a moral principle, the state has no right to let its moral disapprobation of the infringement of liberty get in the way of successful political action, itself inspired by the moral principle of national survival”. For example, if a ruler operated in accordance with Christian private ethics and would not agree in many ways to other political rivals as they cannot be counted on to operate in same Christian way (Jackson and Sorensen 73,74). This mergence of the two ethics would lead to a disaster ...Show more


Hans Morgenthau’s six principles of political realism comprise of the most significant statements of contemporary realism. Many generations of political scholars, practitioners of international relations and philosophers have nourished their concepts and opinions by these principles…
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The Six Principles of Political Realism by Hans Morgenthau essay example
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