Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Public Administration

Major Professor

Mark Amen, Ph.D.


Theory, International relations, Evolution, Progressive, Liberatory potential


This thesis analyzes the life and career of Hans J. Morgenthau, commonly accepted as the father of the realist paradigm within the field of international relations. It does so by offering a dynamic revisionist account of the nature of Morgenthau's classical realism and suggests how the approach discussed might have wider application in the field of international relations. Traditional perspectives of Morgenthau suggest that in the course of his career, he changed from holding what would generally be labeled a conservative political viewpoint to a liberal political viewpoint. This thesis takes a different starting point. It does so by suggesting that constancy, not change, was the hallmark of Morgenthau's intellectual development. Thus, what appeared to be a shift from right to left, was in fact merely the different applications of a consistent reading of international relations. Central to this interpretation of Morgenthau's work is the second innovative argument of this

thesis: that Morgenthau's realism contained within it the potential for both conservative (as traditionally defined) and progressive (as traditionally defined) applications. Acknowledging that realism as conservatism is already an accepted understanding within the field of international relations, this thesis focuses on drawing out the progressive potential of Morgenthau's realism, by proving that what appeared in Morgenthau's later career to be an intellectual shift in fact stemmed from the progressivism inherent in the actual existing realism of Morgenthau's early career applied to new situations met in his later career. Based on this analysis of what has been accomplished within the framework of classical realism by Morgenthau, it is the challenge of this thesis to invite contemporary realist thinkers to do the same. In short, the thesis invites contemporary theorists to explore, recover and reclaim the liberatory and progressive potential of classical realism. In so doing, the thes

is suggests the potential for two new research programs. First, reclaiming the liberatory potential of Morgenthau's approach and use of realism provides for the creation of a new understanding of contemporary realism which can transcend both the essentially sterile internal debates between classical and neo-realism and those between classical realism, neo-realism and neo-classical realism. Second, foregrounding the liberatory possibilities of classical realism offers a fruitful approach for the recreation of common ground between realism and other more 'politically progressive' paradigms in contemporary international relations theory such as peace research or constructivism. It is the final hope for this thesis that it might, by building bridges within and between different fields, lay the foundations of a possible path for the reintegration of the whole discipline of international relations.