This paper examines some of the main assumptions on which the IR theory of
political realism is based. According to the theory of political realism, national
interest and not morality is the main criterion by which the state acts in its foreign
affairs. In its first part this article examines three arguments in support
of realists’ skepticism towards morality in international relations. In the second
part the concept of national interest and the possibility of its application as the
main criterion in choosing the state action in international relations are examined.
The author argues that the only plausible version of morality is universal
morality based on respect for fundamental human rights. Realists’ view of
morality at the international level cannot be defended in a convincing manner.
Still, the theory of political realism provides valuable insights about the nature
of international morality and the limits of its application.
IR Theory; Morality; National Interest; Political Realism