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The Concept of the State in International RelationsPhilosophy, Sovereignty and Cosmopolitanism$
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Robert Schuett and Peter M. R. Stirk

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748693627

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748693627.001.0001

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The State as a Universe of Discourse

The State as a Universe of Discourse

(p.48) 2 The State as a Universe of Discourse
The Concept of the State in International Relations

Peter J. Steinberger

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter provides an account of the concept of state, the implications of which should be important for thinking clearly about what happens when nations engage one another in the international arena. It first considers the enterprise of the state by examining a single, ostensibly trivial but nonetheless highly representative example of state activity. Reflecting on this example, it suggests that the state is best understood as what is sometimes called a universe of discourse; and examines, in that context, the process by which implicit truth-claims are problematized and become the subject matter for rational reconstruction. It argues that the model of the state as a universe of discourse is superior in several respects to the traditional model of the state as a kind of organism. It traces out some of the consequences of this claim for the understanding of politics.

Keywords:   international politics, international relations, state, truth-claims, universe of discourse, politics

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