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Home arrow History arrow The Art of World-Making: Nicholas Greenwood Onuf and his Critics


Onuf’s particular legal approach to IR theory provided the origins for combining political with social theory and with praxeology. The three rules about rules and rule can therefore also be expressed in a different manner. In the rule on political theory, Onuf invites us to leave Liberalism behind by rescuing the Enlightenment from Liberalism - Liberalism that informs all major IR schools, and in particular IR realism (including the variant of the English School). As a result, the relationship between the individual and society is not to be based on rights, but rules. In the rule on social theory, Onuf asks us to reconnect with a Weberian tradition. But instead of reading Weber mainly as a forerunner of different theories of (individual) action alone, Onuf prompts us to think of how (social) practices constitute rule and domination. In terms of praxeology, finally, Onuf provides neither a liberal utopia nor a Weberian iron cage alone, but, as a good Constructivist, asks us to explore the openness of social practices and hence the potential of politics in a world of exploitation. By retracing this specific way to Constructivism, we hope Onuf’s rules may also help others to charter their way through the world of IR.

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