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Justice Among Nations book cover
Justice Among Nations:
On the Moral Basis of Power and Peace
Co-author: Peter J. Ahrensdorf
The University Press of Kansas, 1999

Thomas Pangle and Peter Ahrensdorf provide a critical introduction to the most important conceptions of international justice, spanning 2,500 years of intellectual history from Thucydides and Plato to Morgenthau and Waltz. Their study shows how older traditions of political philosophy remain relevant to current debates in international relations, and how political thinkers through the centuries can help us deepen our understanding of today's stalemate between realism and idealism.

Pangle and Ahrensdorf guide the reader through a sequence of theoretical frameworks for understanding the moral basis of international relations: the cosmopolitan vision of the classical philosophers, the "just war" teachings of medieval Christian theologians, including the philosophic conception of jihad in Islam, the revolutionary realism of Machiavelli, the Enlightenment idealism of Kant, and the neo-realism of twentieth-century theorists. They clarify the core of each philosopher's conceptions of international relations, examine the appeal of each position, and bring these alternatives into mutually illuminating juxtaposition.

The authors clearly show that appreciating the fundamental questions pursued by these philosophers can help us avoid dogmatism, abstraction, or oversimplification when considering the moral character of international relations. Justice Among Nations restores the study of the great works of political theory to its natural place within the discipline of international relations as it retrieves the question of international justice as a major theme of political philosophy. It provides our moral compass with new points of orientation and invites serious readers to grapple with some of the most perplexing issues of our time.
Illuminating and provocative guide to the classics.
-Ethics and International Affairs
Pangle und Ahrensdorf ist es gelungen, eine umfassende und zugleich innovative interdisziplinäre Studie vorzulegen, und es wäre wünschenswert, dass sie Einzug in die Seminar- und Vorlesungsräume deutscher Universitäten findet. Sie ist ein anschauliches Beispiel für wirkliche interdisziplinäre Arbeit und gleichzeitig räumt sie mit vielen althergebrachten Vorurteilen über die morallosen and zynischen Realisten auf.

Pangle and Ahrensdorf have succeeded in presenting a comprehensive and at the same time innovative interdisciplinary study, and it is to be hoped that it has an impact on the seminar and lecture halls of German universities. It is a vivid example of truly interdisciplinary work, while it does away with many long accepted prejudices about the amoral and cynical character of realism.
-from Zeitschrift für Politik
Succeeds admirably, combining a graceful look at the contemporary forces of globalization with in-depth consideration of pertinent intellectual history, from Thucydides and Plato to Morgenthau and Waltz. As the discipline of international relations has regrettably distanced itself from the great works of political theory, Pangle and Ahrensdorf make a strong case for narrowing this distance and returning to an inquiry with a moral compass.
-American Political Science Review
A powerful and important book on competing theoretical and philosophical frameworks for understanding the moral basis of international relations.... Pangle and Ahrensdorf aspire to untrammel modern realism and idealism alike, from the core dilemmas each raises and the contradictions each faces.... This book in its entirety should be assigned in core courses offered to all advanced students in international relations.
-International History Review
This book is a rare flower in the garden of books covering the theory of international relations.... It serves as an admirable introduction to thinkers whose works and ideas are still immensely influential, yet whose thought is far too rarely studied with the necessary degree of seriousness.
-Journal of Peace Research
In an environment of intellectual decline, it is heartening to come across a major work--and that is the appropriate description of Justice Among Nations--that confirms the existence of outstanding scholars among us.... Justice Among Nations is must reading for scholars of political philosophy and international relations alike.
-Perspectives on Political Science
After reading this book, nobody could agree with the common criticism that political philosophy has nothing to say about the real world of political action and political choice.... Pangle and Ahrensdorf are clearly political moderates, and they have written a most formidable and radical criticism of the perennial human phenomenon of the 'religious right.'
Whether or not one is inclined to accept or reject the central argument, one can still admire the book as a piece of scholarship that adds a great deal to our understanding of the evolution of ideas about international politics. It is a powerful addition to an increasingly important 'zone of engagement' in the human sciences.
-International Affairs
Der Vorzug des Buches von Pangle und Ahrensdorf liegt nicht nur darin, dass es ihnen gelingt, die Antworten auf die Fragen der internationalen Gerechtigkeit, die die Klassiker der Philosophie gegeben haben, fuer das Lehrgebiet der Internationalen Beziehungen herauszuarbeiten; darueber hinaus raeumen sie mit mancher Abgrenzung auf, die die sogenannten Realisten und Idealisten dieser Theorie wechselseitig vorgenommen haben. Der groessere Ernst, mit dem Fragen von Recht und Gerechtigkeit in der Theorie der Internationalen Beziehungen verfolgt werden, soll ein Gegengewicht darstellen zu einem um sich griefenden selbstgefaelligen Moralismus des Westens und einer zunehmenden ethnischen, religioesen und kulturellen Verbohrtheit, die ueberall auf der Welt zu beobachten sei. Das Buch von Pangle und Ahrensdorf ist hervorragend geeignet, die Kenntnisse ueber die geistesgeschichtlichen Voraussetzungen der Theorieder Internationalen Beziehungen zu vertiefen und dem Fach eine bessere Grundlage zu geben.
-Philosophische Rundschau

Named an "Outstanding Academic Title of 1999" by Choice Magazine.

 Chinese translation forthcoming from SDX Joint Publishing Co.