ROBERT COX: CRITICAL THEORY AND PROBLEM-SOLVING

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Critical theory is the way of thinking that does not accept the prevailing order as a natural consequence. The theory had predicted some subjects like identity, domestic policy and foreign policy etc., but I had drawn interest entry coverage about international relations. The most important delegate of the theory and also the father of critical theory is Robert W. Cox who had influenced Marx and Gramsci. Cox discoursed approach of problem-solving in International Relations. According to him, the purpose of critical theory had changed established order. The advocates of critical theory look international relations over the power, and they put the power to foundation of ınternational relations. He said that as it always should be conflict for an international order, and while he was mentioning these subjects, he said an important sentence for international relations: ‘theory is always for someone and for some purpose.’

First of all, critical theory just like post-positivism, they express theory differently from traditional approach. We need to look the theory definition of Robert W. Cox at this point. According to Cox, ‘theory is always for someone and for some purpose.’ Even if the sentence appear like to does not express something, clannishness it expresses a certain disengagement from definition of traditional approach that see theory as cleaned environment completely from values and norms. In response to this, Cox claims that, people of theory have historical and social aspects that are impossible to be independent from values and norms.

Secondly, Robert Cox’s ideas on the purpose of theory in International Relations, is not a search to find the truth but it is a tool to understand the world as it is, and to change it through the power of critique. According to Robert Cox, theory has two purposes: one of them is the problem-solving purpose that is synchronic which deals with the givens and tries to manage the smooth functioning of the system. The other kind of theory is the critical theory, and the purpose is to become aware of the situations not chosen by one, and to establish an emancipator perspective. Once looked from the Coxian lens, it is clear that the discipline of international relations were from the very beginning loyal to this kind of purpose in theorizing ,i.e., the smooth working of the system. As Robert Cox articulates, ‘Theory is always for someone and for some purpose’; this statement reflects the context in which the theory is being analyzed. Cox had made a certain distinction between problem-solving and critical theory because of this. A deprived theory from perspective cannot be something else from ideology. Perspectives show changes with same time and place, and they created a unresolved dialogue between theoretician and social reality, and consequently problem-solving was appeared. Cox terms problem-solving; conservative and traditionalist. They accept prevailing order as a natural consequence and take something as it comes, and purpose of them had improved the order. In case, critical theory do not accept prevailing order like a natural consequence ,and they reveal problematical social and historical process ,so they do not have overextending purposes to prevailing order. We clearly saw that, while Robert Cox was explaining the statement, he mentioned a distinction between critical theory and problem-solving. According to me, the best example for statement of Cox is Kurdish debate because this statement can brighten people about Kurdish issue. The explanations and definitions regarding the Kurdish debate to be normative, prevents the analysis concerning the resolution to be objective. At this juncture, the theory definition of Robert W. Cox will lend assistance in the definition and naming of the Kurdish issue. According to Robert W. Cox; theory is always for someone and for some purpose, therefore divorced from a stand point in time and space. In other words, theory always serves a purpose and works for the resolution of problem of a certain group.

Finally, Robert Cox had found a solution to continuous issues for many years, and had given knowledge people about the issues with distinction between problem-solving and critical theory and his articles. This statement somewhere for someone, ıf even as it should be unnecessary, I think, it is important to understand discipline of international relations because the statement is expressed as a disengagement from traditional approach. Robert Cox is thinker that had beard extant issues with his studies and his thoughts. Maybe, some people recognize Robert W. Cox with this statement ‘theory is always for someone and for some purpose.’

Yusuf Taner KILAVUZ

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Yusuf Taner KILAVUZ

Istanbul Medeniyet University, Faculty of Political Science, Department of International Relations. tanerkilavuz@gmail.com

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