Third generation constructivism and the rhetoric of inquiry in international relations

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This article argues that third generation constructivism can make a central and overdue contribution to the practice of meta-theorising in IR. Meta-theory has so far restricted itself to exercises of observational re ection or de nitional sedimentation of content, or in Patrick Jackson’s words, to an elaboration of the ‘conduct of inquiry’. It has thereby failed, to its detriment, to re ect on and recognise the central importance of the deep and intricate relation between the content of meta-theory and the very form(s) in which it is practiced. Taking its cue from Kratochwil’s re ection on the deliberative nature of legal reasoning this article puts forward a case for a shift towards a rhetoric of inquiry of meta-theory. Such an approach opens the way to conceive of meta-theory as an argumentative-persuasive practice whose content is deeply interwoven with forms of presentation on the one hand and normative commitments on the other.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-98
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Review of International Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Internation relations
  • rhetoric
  • reflexivity
  • meta-theory


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