Journal of International and Global Studies


In “The State as Person in International Theory,” Wendt explores the analysis and comparison of the classic unit of international relations to a human subject. In an unprecedented manner, Wendt takes his comparison to the limit, finding connections between the biological aspects of personhood as well as the social. In this essay, we use a structure similar to Wendt’s but come to different conclusions. Using the works of Searle’s intentionality and Mitzen’s ontological security, among others, we find that the social category of state personhood is determined to be both accurate and helpful for progressing IR theory. We depart from Wendt’s argument, however, and see the attempt to attribute biological personhood to the state as detrimental. By adding in perspectives from theorists such as Bourdieu, Oprisko, Lomas, and Wight, we determine that an objective biological state cannot exist within a socially constructed world. This leads to the conclusion that the state is a social person but not a biological one. Furthermore, making connections between the person and state beyond a broad social context is problematic for progressing IR theory.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.