By J. E. Hare, Carey B. Joynt
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Extra resources for Ethics and International Affairs
Niebuhr is not entirely consistent in his language here. But the point seems to be that there are two conceptually autonomous spheres, politics and ethics. Pure politics is amoral, just as pure ethics is apolitical. Niebuhr can say, therefore, that there is a conflict between ethics and politics. "A realistic analysis of the problems of human society reveals a constant and seemingly irreconcilable conflict between the needs of society and the imperatives of a sensitive conscience. " 30 Ethics and International Ajfairs He none the less insists that the statesman should be ''under the influence of the foolishness of the moral seer".
The debate between Thrasymachus and Socrates is biased against the realist position in Plato's presentation. 1 Thrasymachus is made to seem not only a boor but a fool. His view is that "justice is nothing else than the interest of the stronger". 2 But during the course of the discussion with Socrates, he comes to use the terms "just" and "unjust" more conventionally, so that "injustice" implies the unbridled pursuit of self-interest. He says that for him "the best and most perfectly unjust state" will be the state most likely to be "unjustly attempting to enslave other states" or to have "already enslaved them, and be holding them in subjection".
65 In fact, Kennan does believe, at least some of the time, in the applicability of moral principles to international relations. He has a profound conviction that America and the West have something of real value to share with the rest of the world; that they can be a source of hope and inspiration; and that the main thing holding them back is a lack of confidence and energy at home. This is a note which he has often sounded. 66 The emphasis is different from Morgenthau's. For whereas Morgenthau sees the only trace of hope in a revived art of diplomacy, Kennan, the diplomat, sees that diplomacy can only be successful against the background of a strong moral and spiritual example at home.