It is difficult to overstate the significance of Jürgen Habermas’ work in contemporary intellectual thought. A scholar of unprecedented scope and profundity, he is often referred to as the German intellectual of the post-Second World War era. Given the scale and quality of Habermas’ scholarly repertoire, it is not surprising that his ideas have inspired a rich and growing body of literature in International Relations (IR).1 His thought has been particularly influential in the ‘post-positivist’ turn within the discipline of IR – a body of writing emphasizing the role of inter-subjective meanings, interpretation and linguistic communication in the construction of new and innovative approaches to world politics. Of course, such themes long pre-date Habermas’ own unique contribution to them, as the various other chapters in this volume illustrate. This chapter explores first of all the sources and debates around Habermas’ work and, second, some specific aspects of its significance in IR, including in particular the ways in which the work of Andrew Linklater develops, reflects and refracts his arguments.
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