Introduction: when thinking about how the world works IR scholars usually subscribe to one of two dominant theories, realism or liberalism. One, classical/neo-realist thought, is more pessimistic about the prospects of peace, cooperation, and human progress whilst the other, liberalism/idealism, is more upbeat and sanguine about human nature and human possibilities. In this lecture, we examine each worldview in depth...at the end I'd like you to think about which, if any, view you subscribe to...
II. International Relations Theory
A. What is theory? One word often used to describe theory is "paradigm". According to Ray and Kaarbo, a paradigm is simply a way of thinking about and approaching an area of scientific or scholarly inquiry that is widely accepted within a particular discipline. 1. In other words, a paradigm provides a simplified map of reality; it takes the complexity of the real world and reduces it to a core set of assumptions that make global events that seem so isolated, unrelated and complicated more comprehensible. 2. So thats what theory and paradigms are all about: they help us systematize and simplify a very complicated world. Good theory is generally simple (see Ockham's Razor...William of Ockham said [a long time ago!] that "when you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better."), accurate, and elegant.
-William of Ockham 3. Note that to be valuable, a paradigm of world politics needn't explain every event. This is b/c theory, by nature, simplifies reality so that certain things are missed. This simply can't be helped. 4. Ray and Kaarbo (p4) make the point that studying theories "allows students of international relations to analyze global politics in the future, long after they finish reading this book or taking courses on the subject. When students learn only history or contemporary issues...their knowledge of global politics is limited in time because new issues and events are always arising." In short, by studying theories of IR, you will be able to see events in a broader, more analytical, more systematic framework rather than a limited and time bound one...analytically, that's vital. 5. In this lecture we will be examining two dominant paradigms in world politics: Realism and Liberalism (along with sub-theories within the same larger paradigm) III. The Realist Worldview
A. Let's start with a quote from Thomas Hobbes (1651), whom many characterize as probably the major citidel of the modern theory we call classical realism:
-The stylish Mr. Hobbes - Cover of his seminal work, "Leviathan"
"Hereby it is manifest that during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man...To this war of every man against every man, this also is consequent: that nothing can be unjust. The notion of right and wrong, justice and injustice, have there no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law; where no law, no injustice. Force and fraud are in war the two cardinal virtues." 1. You should note from the above that realism embraces a more pessimistic view of world politics, state relations, and the possibility of "perpetual peace"...That's why I started with this b/c Hobbes' more pessimistic view of the world really underscores the theory we call classical realism (and which is now called structural/neo realism) B. Definitions and Description of Realist Theory.
1. According to professors Kegley & Wittkopf (31), classical realism is “a paradigm based on the premise that world politics is essentially and unchangeably a struggle among self-interested states for power and position under anarchy, with each competing state pursuing...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document