International Research School in Conceptual History and Political Thought

Evgeny Roshchin defended his doctoral dissertation 'Friendship in International Relations: A History of the Concept' at the University of Jyväskylä on November 27, 2009.
Supervisor of the dissertation: Academy Professor Kari Palonen, University
of Jyväskylä; Opponent: Jens Bartelson, Professor of Political Science,
Lund University

Roshchin, Evgeny
Friendship in International Relations: A History of the Concept
Jyväskylä: University of Jyväskylä, 2009, 236 p.

This thesis examines the history of the concept of friendship as applied
to the relations among political units. It does not suggest another
argument in favor of friendship as an ideal of international life. Instead
it offers an account of how modern political thought acquired and further
reified a normatively informed concept of international friendship and
what stakes it involved. The thesis argues that the distinction between
the concepts of international and interpersonal friendship became blurred,
thereby clearing the space for ethical assessments of international
conduct, in the course of the early modern discussions of the nature of
men, state of nature and constitution of the state as well as in the tacit
adaptations to certain ideas of political order. The study draws on
Quentin Skinner's approach to the history of concepts. It investigates a
number of early modern political, juridical and historical treatises as
well as the British and American treaties.

In addition to the familiar 'normative' concept of friendship, the
research of these sources reveals another concept of friendship as a
voluntary contracted relationship with specified and binding terms. The
latter was used in Antiquity and the Middle Ages to describe and classify
'friendship compacts', to set up and legitimize political and legal
orders, with specific stipulations on commercial and military duties and
more general articulation of the issues relating to the equality or
inequality of the parties. In the period of transition to the Westphalian
system of international relations, the 17th and 18th century debates on
the state of nature and the constitution of the commonwealth valorized the
concept of friendship as an ethical relationship. They presented it as a
dictate of nature and an inherent part of human sociality and,
consequently, marginalized the voluntary and contracted concept of
friendship. The thesis shows how friendship understood as a particular
politico-legal instrument is transformed to a desired normative ideal of
the invented system. The analysis of the use of friendship in relations
with non-European peoples in the 17th-19th centuries demonstrates that,
despite the prevailing normative understandings of political theory, the
concept remains one of the key tools for constructing politico-legal
orders, which are not necessarily based on the principles of sovereign
equality. Hence, the thesis suggests looking at international friendship
not as a perennial value, but as a contingent conceptual tool employed to
promote particular political projects.

Keywords: friendship, history of concepts, rhetoric, political order,
contract, inequality,