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      Utility contra utilitarianism: Holbach’s international ethics

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      Journal of International Political Theory

      SAGE Publications

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          Abstract

          Holbach is a largely forgotten figure of the history of ideas. Yet his work was influential on a number of historical thinkers, notably Marx. Famous for his materialistic atheism, Holbach has much to contribute to other fields, and this article details his contribution to international ethics, as well as its applicability in contemporary debates. By reviving his utilitarian theory, this article seeks to rehabilitate a subtle understanding of this ethical theory and contribute to a growing literature on eighteenth-century utilitarian thought and its applicability to contemporary international relations. This article introduces the utilitarian theory of Holbach, detailing the role that virtue ethics plays within it and showing the relative contribution of Holbach to utilitarian debates, notably against the thought of Bentham. Lastly, it applies Holbach’s complex conception of self-interest to the field of international ethics, showing the challenges he raises to realist and liberal theories of international relations, as well as the normative theories of Walzer and Rawls.

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          Most cited references 51

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          Anarchy is what states make of it: the social construction of power politics

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            What Makes the World Hang Together? Neo-utilitarianism and the Social Constructivist Challenge

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              Radical Enlightenment

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Journal of International Political Theory
                Journal of International Political Theory
                SAGE Publications
                1755-0882
                1755-1722
                June 2014
                May 22 2014
                June 2014
                : 10
                : 2
                : 188-205
                Affiliations
                [1 ]University of Kent, UK
                Article
                10.1177/0278364914526019
                2bd4fd72-c819-4867-af87-145299969dfe
                © 2014

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