The Reflexive Turn and International Relations Theory

The paper examines the prospects for the development of theoretically reflexive theory in the discipline of international relations. First, the issue of theoretical reflexivity is discussed in terms of the "reflexive turn" associated with post-positivist philosophy of science in contemporary social and political theory. The question of whether a parallel to the "reflexive turn" in social and political theory can be identified in theorizing about international relations is then addressed. It is argued that in the context of international relations theory's Third Debate one sees evidence of the growth of the "broader and deeper kind of political and epistemological self-consciousness" which is fundamental to the development of a theoretically reflexive disposition. As a consequence, if it remains premature to speak of an authentic "reflexive turn" in the discipline of international relations, it can nonetheless be argued that the prospects for the growth of theoretically reflexive international relations theory are real and significant, while the need for such theory is urgent
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