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International Relations Theory A New Introduction

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Title: International Relations Theory A New Introduction


1
International Relations TheoryA New Introduction
  • Chapter 1
  • Why Theorize International Relations?

2
Why Theory?
  • This chapter seeks answers to questions such as
  • If the objective is to understand international
    relations, then what can theory do for us?
  • What is the added value of theoretical
    reflection?
  • What is Theory?
  • What is Meta-theory?

3
Why Theory?Five key sets of reasons
  • Research guidance
  • Excellent tool to challenge prejudices or
    traditional world views
  • Theory makes it easier to grasp the modern world
  • Theory can play an important role when we want to
    evaluate political practice
  • International Relations is a discipline defined
    by its theories, therefore knowledge of its
    theories is a precondition for becoming
    acquainted to the discipline

4
What is Theory?
  • S. Burchill (2001)
  • The term theory is not limited to its
    scientific or positivist formulations
  • Explanatory theories of the kind which flow from
    the adoption of a positivist methodology, are
    only one type of international theory
  • Several avenues of theorizing see C. Brown
    (1997)
  • Explanatory Theories
  • Normative or Prescriptive Theories
  • Interpretative Theories

5
What is Meta-theory?
  • Theoretical reflections on theory!
  • Key aspects of Meta-theory
  • Ontology
  • Epistemology
  • Agent-Structure Problem
  • Level-of-Analysis

6
John Vasquez set of criteria
  • Good theories should be
  • accurate
  • falsifiable
  • capable of evincing great explanatory power
  • progressive as opposed to degenerating in terms
    of their research programme(s)
  • consistent with what is known in other areas
  • appropriately parsimonious and elegant
  • (Vasquez 1995 230)

7
Theoretical Traditions
  • To achieve an adequate balance between inclusion
    and exclusion, this book offers six theoretical
    traditions
  • International Political Theory
  • International Liberalism
  • Political Realism
  • The International Society Tradition
  • International Political Economy
  • The Post-Positivist Tradition

8
Currents of Thought
  • Individual currents are part of a tradition but
    more specific and dynamic than traditions
  • Examples
  • In International Society Tradition pluralism and
    solidarism
  • In Realism classical realism, neorealism and
    post-neorealism
  • In Liberalism strong and weak liberalism
    ideational, republican and commercial liberal
    theory (A. Moravcsik) neoliberal
    institutionalism, republican and commercial
    liberalism (R. Keohane)

9
Six Theoretical Debates
  • Inter-tradition and intra-tradition debates
  • Numbers 1-3 represent intra-tradition debates
  • Numbers 4-6 represent inter-tradition debates

10
Theorists Do-It-Yourself Theory
  • Theoretical traditions, currents of thought and
    specific
  • individual theories can be presented in three
    different
  • fashions
  • As a kind of pre-given complex structure of ideas
  • As creation of one or more individuals and as
    accomplished in a specific context of time and
    space
  • As Do-It-Yourself Theorizing Theory builder vs.
    Theory consumer

11
What is the field of international relations?
  • Some theorists
  • define IR narrowly as simply relations between
    units (states) in the international system
  • are more inclusive in terms of both actors
    relations, focus on inter-state, inter-society
    state-society relations
  • include inter-region relations, relations between
    states and international organizations or
    economic relations
  • The nature of international relations is
    historically contingent
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