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raison d'état

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Raison d'état (much less frequently in the English reason of state) dates from arguments in international law at the time of the formation of the modern states‐system in the seventeenth century. It means that there may be reasons for acting (normally in foreign policy, less usually in domestic policy) which simply override all other considerations of a legal or moral kind. Raison d'état is thus a term which fits easily into the language of political realism and realpolitik. As those doctrines have declined in acceptability the term raison d'état declined with them.

Peter Byrd


Subjects: Social sciencesPolitics

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