Professor Jason Ralph

Professor Jason Ralph


Jason Ralph is Professor of International Relations and former Head of the School of Politics and International Studies. He is also Honorary Professor of International Relations at the University of Queensland. He is author of three books including America’s War on Terror (OUP 2013) and Defending the Society of States (OUP 2007).

His most recent work is on the Responsibility to Protect and international society, including “What Should be Done? Pragmatic Constructivist Ethics and the Responsibility to Protect” International Organization 2018, and (with Jess Gifkins) ‘The purpose of UN Security Council Practice. Contesting Competence Claims in the Normative context created by the Responsibility to Protect”, which was awarded best article to be published by the European Journal of International Relations in 2017.

He has been the recipient of research awards from the Economic and Social Research Council, the British Academy, Research Councils UK, and the European Union, including a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship 2014-2016. His work during this fellowship was nominated for a Marie Curie Prize Award in the area of “contributing to society”. Central to this was his role as a founding director of the European Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, which is based at the University of Leeds.


  • Co-Editor European Journal of International Security
  • Honorary Professor, University of Queensland

Research interests

Professor Ralph is working on a book project called “On Global Learning. Pragmatic Constructivism, International Practice and the challenge of Global Governance”.   The book answers three questions: to answer three questions: (1) what can classical Pragmatism bring to debates in IR, including those centered on the perennial question of how norms, practices and interests interact to influence international society and its practitioners? (2) How, if at all, should international practices and practitioners adapt in the face of pressing global security, climate and health challenges?  (3) Given the Pragmatist answer to these first two questions, what normative conclusions can we come to about actual practice in contemporary international society?

Chapter 1 – Introduction

Pragmatism and the ‘New Constructivism’

Pragmatism and Global Learning

In From the Margins. Pragmatism and International Relations

Beyond Paradigms and the Theoretical Impasse

Extrapolating from History

Pragmatism as an Analytical and Normative Framework

Pragmatic Constructivism, IR and Global Learning. A Chapter Outline


Part One


Chapter 2 – Norms and Practice

New Constructivism / Pragmatic Constructivism

Finding normativity in and through experimental practice

The inclusive community of deliberative inquiry and society’s ‘stock of learning’

The logic of arguing and a theory of contestation

Let’s argue! But for (or from) what?



Chapter 3 – Habit, Habitus and Conscientious Reflection

IR Practice Theory and Classical Pragmatism

Habit, intuition and conscientious reflection

Ends, means and ‘virtuoso’ performances

Dewey’s ‘pedagogic creed’ and a theory of learning



Chapter 4 – Learning, Democracy and the Realist critique

Classical Pragmatism, Realism and democratic politics

Material change and the national interest

Reducing our ‘vulnerability to tragedy’

Pragmatism, Realism, Prudence and Learning



Chapter 5 – Pragmatic Constructivism and the challenge of Global Governance

International Relations, globalization and the ‘eclipse’ of the public

Communities of practice and the ‘software’ of global governance

Publically oriented communities of practice: a Pragmatist ‘Vocation

Inclusionary reflexivity and deliberative practical judgement: two tests for communities of practice



Part Two


Chapter 6 – International practice and global security

Sovereignty, intervention and R2P practices

Assessing the UN Security Council as a community of practice

R2P skepticism and the Pragmatist Vocation

Nuclear atrocity prevention



Chapter 7 – International practice and climate change

Assessing the IPCC as a community of practice  

Assessing the COP as a community of practice

Pragmatism in Paris and the view from Glasgow

Nationalism to realize nationally determined targets?



Chapter 8 – International practice and global health

Assessing the WHO as a community of disease control practice

Assessing the PHEIC community of practice. Lessons from the pandemic

Global health publics and intellectual property practices

The practical value of a public health treaty



Chapter 9 – Conclusion.  American Pragmatism and Global IR

American Pragmatism and Pragmatic Constructivism

Pragmatism, Relationalism and Confucianism

Thoughts on future research


Professor has also contributed a called ‘Norms, Normativity and Pragmatist Justification. Advancing the ‘third move’ in Norm Studies’, to a forthcoming book edited by Phil Orchard and Antje Wiener: 

Abstract: My aim in this chapter is to contribute to what the volume calls the ‘third move’ in IR norm studies, which explicitly addresses the legitimacy of the norm being studied as well as its influence on practice. To do this I build on the work of those who point to the relevance of classical American Pragmatism, which considers how we know that what we are doing is appropriate once we realize that norms are the product of social and historical practices rather than abstract moral foundations. I trace the Pragmatist’s commitment to deliberative inquiry through the ideas of Charles Peirce and John Dewey and relate it to Antje Wiener’s arguments that normativity is sustained through proactive contestation, or the practice of critically engaging norms. While there are overlaps between the two approaches, I argue that Deweyan Pragmatism in particular can help us understand when it is appropriate to defend a norm against contestation. It does this by drawing on what Dewey called a ‘stock of learning’, which we might understand as the background knowledge that has epistemic authority because it is the product of a deliberative and inclusive process of inquiry. I develop this argument with reference to debates within Pragmatist philosophy before applying it to offer a preliminary assessment of global health norms.

Keywords: norms, normativity, Pragmatism, Peirce, Dewey, democracy, epistemic authority, learning


<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Student education

Professor Ralph teaches on the following modules:

  • International Politics
  • Theoretical Approaches to IR
  • Diplomatic Practice
  • Responsibility to Protect

Research groups and institutes

  • European Centre for Responsibility to Protect

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>