'ir'에 해당되는 글 8건

  1. 2014.08.13 [IR-Neorealism and its Competitors] Neo-Marxist Approach on IR (Critical Theory of Hegemony)
  2. 2014.08.08 [IR-Anarchy and Cooperation] Bull, Hedley (1966) “Society and Anarchy in International Relations”
  3. 2014.08.07 [IR-Anarchy and Cooperation] Axelrod, Robert (1984) The Evolution of Cooperation
  4. 2014.07.25 [IR-Power and Classical Realism]
  5. 2014.07.15 [IR-Theories Evidences Inferences] Kuhn, Thomas (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
  6. 2014.07.15 [IR-Theories Evidences Inferences] Fearon, James (1991) “Counterfactuals and Hypothesis Testing in Political Science”
  7. 2014.07.10 [IRTheories-Level of Analysis] Jervis, Robert (1976) “Perceptions and the Level-of-Analysis Problem,”
  8. 2014.07.10 [IRTheories-Level of Analysis] Wolfers, Arnold (1962) Discord and Collaboration

[IR-Neorealism and its Competitors] Neo-Marxist Approach on IR (Critical Theory of Hegemony)

[연구] Research 2014. 8. 13. 20:26

Cox, Robert (1981) “Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory,” Journal of International Studies, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 126-155.

*Neo-Marxist Approach to IR (Bringing Gramsci’s theory on hegemony)

- Realists-Marxists’s hegemony: domination by material capabilities

- Gramsci’s: hegemony separated from the idea of domination. Material capabilities-ethical-political ideology (강제가 아닌 합의-정통성에 바탕한 hegemony)

*Problem-solving Theories vs. Critical Theories


1. Overview: Changes in international relations (convention):

-          “actors (different kinds of state, and non-state entities)” (126)

-          “the range of stakes (low as well as high politics)” (126)

-          “greater diversity of goals pursued” (126)

-          “a greater complexity in the modes of interaction and the institutions within which action takes place” (126)


*In more specific (changes in intellectual conventions in IR)

-          18th & 19th century distinction between state and civil society (foreign policy as “pure expression of state interests”)

-          Replaced by society based on contract and market relations – state and civil society distinction blurred.


*Recent trends in theory:

-          “undermined” “conceptual unity of the state” (127)

Ø  “by perceiving it as the arena of competing bureaucratic entities” (127) : rational choice

Ø  “by introducing a range of private transnational activity and transgovernmental networks of relationships among fragments of state bureaucracies” (127)

ð  Yet these approaches are still limited, looking at the state as “a singular concept,” with “little attempt… to consider the state/society complex as the basic entity of international relations” (127) – Need for studies on the “plurality of forms of state” – “different configurations of state/society complexes” (127)


*Other attempts to fill “the gap” (127) – Breaking down the unitary concept of the state:

-          Marxist revival as alternatives to diversify the notion of state “by amplifying its social dimensions.” (127) – yet the implications are not strongly developed.

Ø  Defining the state as “a singularly-conceived capitalist mode of production” (127) (in reference to Althusser[1], Poulantzas[2])

Ø  Attention “away from state and class conflict to a motivational crisis in culture and ideology” (127) (in reference to Habermas[3])

ð  Yet, Limited Depth in the application of Marxism on IR: These approaches do not go “very far towards exploring the actual or historical differences among forms of state, or considering the implications of the differences for international behavior.” (127)

-          E.H. Carr and Eric Hobsbawm: social forces, the changing nature of the state and global relationships

-          Fernand Braudel: interrelationship between these forces in the 16th & 17th centuries

-          Immanuel Wallerstein (inspired by Braudel’s work): theory of world systems defined essentially in terms of social relations (exploitative exchange relations between a developed core and an underdeveloped periphery, different forms of labor control)

Ø  2 Main Weaknesses (Criticisms): state “as merely derivative from its position in the world system” and the “system-maintenance bias” – “Like structural-functional sociology, the approach is better at accounting for forces that maintain or restore a system’s equilibrium, than identifying contradictions which can lead to a system’s transformation.



2. “On Perspectives and Purposes”

(After the Overview of the ongoing tension against Neorealist assumptions, Cox goes on to illustrate his views on what theories are about. Here is where Cox distinguishes between the problem-solving and critical theories)


“Theory is always for someone and for some purpose. All theories have a perspective… When any theory so represents itself, it is the more important to examine it as ideology, and to lay bare its concealed perspective” (128)


-          Two distinct purposes of theory

Ø  1) “problem-solving theory”:

n  “solve the problems posed within the terms of the particular perspective which was the point of departure” (128); “It takes the world as it finds it, with the prevailing social and power relationships and the institutions into which they are organized, as the given framework for action” (128); 

n  The general aim: “to make these relationships and institutions work smoothly” (129);

n  “fragmented among a multiplicity of spheres… each of which assumes a certain stability in the other spheres” – “the institutional and relational parameters assumed” (129)

n  Toward “subdivision and limitation of the issue” (129) – narrowing down the scope

Ø  2) “critical theory”

n  “more reflective upon the process of theorizing itself: to become clearly aware of the perspective which gives rise to theorizing, and its relation to other perspectives (to achieve a perspective on perspectives); and to open up the possibility of choosing a different valid perspective from which the problematic becomes one of creating an alternative world.” (128)

n  “does not take institutions and social and power relations for granted”; the “parameters” problem-solving theory accept are questioned.

n  Towards “construction of a larger picture of the whole of which the initially contemplated part is just one component, and seeks to understand the processes of change in which both parts and whole are involved.” (129)

n  “lack in precision” (129) in comparison to problem solving theory (ahistoric – fixed point): critical theory must continually adjust to changes (historic)


-          Limitations of problem solving theory:

Ø  The “assumption of fixity” = “a convenience of method” “ideological bias” “conservative” (129)

Ø  “value-bound” (unlike the proponents’ view that they are value free”) “by the virtue of the fact that it implicitly accepts the prevailing order as its own framework” (130)

Ø  Moreover, unlike problem-solving theory, Critical theory: clarifies range of “alternatives” – “contains utopianism” that “it can represent a coherent picture of an alternative order” – thus can guide to “strategic action for bringing about an alternative order, whereas problem-solving theory is a guide to tactical actions which, intended or unintended, sustain the existing order.” (130)


Historic vs. Ahistoric

Critical (Changer) vs. Status-quo Parameters

Comprehensive vs. Precision

Utopianism vs. Conservatism..?


-   Note on World order and Critical Theory: “a condition of uncertainty in power relations beckons to critical theory as people seek to understand the opportunities and risks of change.” (130) ~ e.g. 1970s


“To reason about possible future world orders now,” critical theory is needed to broaden “our enquiry beyond conventional international relations, so as to encompass basic processes at work in the development of social forces and forms of state, and in the structure of global political economy” (130) – Neo-Marxist and political economy perspective as an alternative to realist theory driven field.



3. “Realism, Marxism and an Approach to a Critical Theory of World Order”


Marxism considered as a preliminary attempt to develop a critical approach to interstate relations and world orders



-          Origin in a historical mode of thought: Friedrich Meinecke (1957), E.H Carr, Ludwig Dehio (delineating particular configuration of forces in different periods to understand within their historical contexts) – historic view that things are susceptible to change

-          However, Since WWII: Realism transformed into a form of problem-solving theory (Hans Morgenthau, Kenneth Waltz), “coinciding with the Cold War” – “imposing bipolarity” upon IR (131)

-          Characteristics by three levels in this new realism: fundamental and unchanging 1) nature of man; 2) the nature of states; 3) the nature of the state system

ð  These core assumptions lead to “variations on always recurrent themes”; conclusion that “the future will always be like the past.” (131)

ð  The idea of rationality and game theories in this tradition reinforce “the nonhistorical mode of thinking” (132)


Debate against Realism(Problem-solving theory)

-          Debate between the civil philosophy of Hobbes and the natural-law theory of Grotius in the 17th (based on different perspectives on the nature of man, the state and the interstate system)

-          Against the Realist view, Neapolitan Giambattista Vico argued for continuity (Critical Theory): Vico criticized the “conceit of scholars” (Vico) who will have it that “what they know is as old as the world” (Vico) “consists in taking a form of thought derived from a particular phase of history… and assuming it to be universally valid. This is an error of neorealism and more generally, the flawed foundation of all problem-solving theory.” (133)


*“How does Marxism relate to this method or approach to a theory of world order?”


-          Two divergent currents in Marxism:

1)       Historical approach to social relations: HISTORICAL MATERIALISM (Marx, Eric Hobsbawm, Gramsci)

Ø  “a foremost source of critical theory and it corrects neorealism in four important aspects”(133):

i)                     Dialectic at two levels (logic and history): “exploration of contradictions” for truth seeking and “potential for alternative forms”… Neorealism sees conflict “as a recurrent consequence of a continuing structure, whereas historical materialism sees conflict as a possible cause of structural change” (134)

ii)                   Focus on Imperialism: Historical materialism gives a “vertical dimension of power” among the states. (134)

iii)                  Enlarging the realist perspective (the relationship between the state and civil society (134)

iv)                 Production process as a critical element


2)       Ahistorical approach – framework for the analysis of the capitalist state and society: STRUCTURAL MARXISM (Althusser and Poulantzas)


*Basic Premises of Critical Theory


1)       Embeddedness of our actions (Our actions within the shared paradigm)…? “an awareness that action is never absolutely free but takes place within a framework for action which constitutes its problematic” (135)

2)       Embeddeness of theory “a realization that not only action but also theory is shaped by the problematic” (135)

3)       Changes… “the framework for action changes over time and a principal goal of critical theory is to understand these changes” (135)

4)       “historical structure” – combination… “the context of habits, pressures, expectations and constraints within which action takes place” (135)

5)       “the framework or structure within which action takes place is to be viewed… from the bottom or from outside in terms of the conflicts which arise within it and open the possibility of its transformation” (135)



4. “Frameworks for Actions: Historical Structures”


= “a particular configuration of forces”


*Three categories of forces within a structure:

1) material capabilities: e.g. technological and organizational capabilities, accumulated forms of resources

2) ideas: 2 kinds – intersubjective(organized/commanded by states) or those shared notions (“collective images of social order held by different groups of people”) (136)

3) institutions: “means of stabilizing and perpetuating a particular order. Institutions reflect the power relations prevailing at their point of origin and tend, at least initially, to encourage collective images consistent with these power relations.” (136)


*The method of historical structures:

- “limited totalities”: it does not “represent the whole world but rather a particular sphere of human activity in its historically located totality; static is avoided by “juxtaposing and connecting historical structures in related spheres of action.” (137)

- “contrast models”: “a simplified representation of a complex reality and an expression of tendencies… rather than fully realized models.” (137)


*The method of historical structures applied to the three levels/spheres of activity (while these three levels are “interrelated”:

1) the organization of production (“the social forces engendered by the production process” (138))

2) “forms of state as derived from a study of state/society complexes” (138)

3) “world orders”

=> “Considered separately, social forces, forms of state, and world orders can be represented in a preliminary approximation as particular configurations of material capabilities, ideas and institutions… Considered in relation to each other, and thus moving towards a fuller representation of historical process, each will be seen as containing, as well as bearing the impact of, the others.” (138)


Shortly after: how the configuration of the three categories of forces allows us to see and determine the changes in the world order (social forces shaped by production relations – between capital and labor).


Main assumption: social relations as the basis of World Order; States as institution as any other in history (State as a distinctive form of political community with its own particular functions, roles, and responsibilities that are socially and historically determined).



5. “Hegemony and World Orders”

(Towards Cox’s Critical Theory of International System Neorealist static explanation of hegemony and world orders vs. Historic view…)


> Neo-realism – material forces focused


> Viewed in historical structures:

Ø  Pax Britannica

1)       Material capabilities: sea power

2)       Ideas (norms): free trade, gold standard, free movement of K&L – neoliberal economics

3)       Institutions: None but the ideological separation between economics and politics -> presence of universal rules

Ø  In transition (late 19th ~WWII)

1)       Material capabilities: weakened

2)       Ideas (norms): faltered with the rise of protectionism, the new imperialisms, and ultimately the end of the gold standard

3)       Institutions: as result, collapsed into a world of rival power blocs


Ø  Pax Americana:

based on greater number of formal international institutions; increased role of state after WWII and the Great Depression. – “ideology is a determining sphere of action which has to be understood in its connections with material power relations”


6.Cox’s Redefinition of Hegemony: “Social Forces, Hegemony and Imperialism”

– often called as Cox’s Critical Theory of Hegemony



*Despite the explanatory power of using the configuration of material power, ideology and institutions, the theory still cannot explain why and how of a hegemony:

Ø  “hegemony may seem to lend itself to a cyclical theory of history; the three dimensions fitting together in certain times and places and coming apart in others… What is missing is some theory as to how and why the fit comes about and comes apart” (141)

ð  Cox’s Explanation here: by “social forces shaped by production relations” (Capital and Labor Relations) – Political Economy Perspective on IR – which he argues to be more fit as a critical and historic view, able to illustrate the processes of a hegemony:

By taking this perspective (political economy) “we move from identifying the structural characteristics of world orders as configurations of material capabilities, ideas and institutions… to explaining their origins, growth and demise in terms of the interrelationships of the three levels of structures” (141)


ð  (Example: Rise and fall of hegemonic order in terms of capitalism that mobilized social forces in specific directions (power seen as “emerging from social processes rather than taken as given in the form of accumulated material capabilities[(neorealists-power fetishism)], that is as the result of these processes [(Marx)] (141))


*Social Forces & Pax Britannica: Rise and Fall both explained by the development of social forces

- Ascendancy: class based social forces of manufacturing capitalism (bourgeoisie in Europe)

- Demise: emergence of industrial workers – industrialization and mobilization of social classes (liberal form of state “slowly replaced by the welfare nationalist form of state”) changed the international configuration of power

- Capitalist production & periphery: new social forces created in the periphery (liberal imperialism):

“imperial system is a world order structure drawing support from a particular configuration of social forces, national and transnational, and of core and periphery states… Actions are shaped either directly by pressures projected through the system or indirectly by the subjective awareness on the part of actors of the constraints imposed by the system”(144)


Two main questions to answer whether pax Americana come apart:

1)       “What are the mechanisms for maintaining hegemony in this particular historical structure” (144)

-          “internationalization of the state” (144)

-          “internationalization of production” (146)

-          Idea of FREE TRADE


2)       “What social forces and/or forms of state have been generated within it which could oppose and ultimately bring about a transformation of the structure?” (144)

-          “international production and class structure” (147) – “international production is mobilizing social forces, and it is through these forces that its major political consequences vis-à-vis the nature of states and future world orders may be anticipated.” (147)

-          But this idea of Free Trade is for a specific class structure (지배계급) – beneficial for hegemony, and not for the third world countries…


7. “Social forces, state structures, and future world order prospects”


Predictions of future world order (one of the functions of critical theories) – “social forces generated by changing production processes are the starting point for thinking about possible futures” (149)


i)                    New hegemony based upon the global structure of social power generated by the internationalizing of production (inter-state power configuration among US, Germany, Japan and other OECD countries, coopted third worlds, OPEC)

ii)                  Non-hegemonic world structure of conflicting power centers (neo-mercantilist coalitions…)

“more remotely possible outcome” (150): Development of a counter-hegemony based on a Third World coalition against core country dominance…




*an attempt to sketch a method for understanding global power relations

*Cox’s critical international theory = a social approach; historicist mode of understanding world order (influenced by Vico, Gramsci, and Braudel); international system must consider the social and historical construction of both agents and structures that underlie economic and political interaction.

*theories are for someone and for some purpose. Therefore if the structures of the time changes, then the ideas and values change. Unlike the realist view on what they call fundamentals, Cox’s view is transformative. *Realism in this sense is a mere reflection of the current hegemon and 지배계급, which can be used to as a tool to maintain the status-quo power structure.

*Brief sketch of Neo-Marxist Approach to IR


Rather than problem-solving preoccupation with the maintenance of social power relationships, a critical theory of hegemony directs attention to questioning the prevailing order of the world. It ‘does not take institutions and social and power relations for granted but calls them into question by concerning itself with their origins and whether they might be in the process of changing” (p. 129) Thus, it is specifically critical in the sense of asking how existing social or world orders have come into being, how norms, institutions or practices therefore emerge, and what forces may have the emancipatory potential to change or transform the prevailing order. As such, a critical theory develops a dialectical theory of history concerned not just with the past but with a continual process of historical change and with exploring the potential for alternative forms of development. Cox’s critical theory of hegemony thus focuses on interaction between particular processes, notably springing from the dialectical possibilities of change within the sphere of production and the exploitative character of social relations, not as unchanging ahistorical essences but as a continuing creation of new forms.[4]




[1] Structural Marxism

[2] (1936-79) Greek neo-Marxist – the concept of the ‘relative autonomy’ of the capitalist state –the ‘structural position’ of the state – the status of state as a servant of capitalism <Political Power and Social Classes> (1968) - despite its formal separation from the institutions of economic production, the state promotes accumulation by maintaining the cohesion of capitalist society and its characteristic class system. Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/nicos-poulantzas#ixzz3AEuQOSDu

[3] Theory of “cognitive interests”- all knowledge is constituted through one of the three generic domains of human interest: 1) technical knowledge (scientific research domains); 2) practical knowledge (social interaction realm – historical-hermeneutic disciplines); 3) Emancipatory knowledge (self-knowledge, self refelction)

[4] Bieler, Andreas and Adam David Morton “A critical theory route to hegemony, world order and historical change: neo-Gramscian perspectives in International Relations,” Capital & Class, Vol. 82, pp. 85-114.

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[IR-Anarchy and Cooperation] Bull, Hedley (1966) “Society and Anarchy in International Relations”

[연구] Research 2014. 8. 8. 09:27

Bull, Hedley (1966) “Society and Anarchy in International Relations,” in Butterfield, Herbert and Martin Wight, Diplomatic Investigations: Essays in the Theory of International Politics, Harvard University Press.

Table of Contents(Whole Book)



1.       Why is there no International Theory?  - M. Wight

2.       Society and Anarchy in International Relations – H. Bull

3.       The Grotian Conception of International Society – H. Bull

4.       Natural Law – D. Mackinnon

5.       Western Values in International Relations – M. Wight

6.       The Balance of Power – H. Butterfield

7.       The Balance of Power – M. Wight

8.       Collective Security and Military Alliances – G. F. Hudson

9.       The New Diplomacy and Historical Diplomacy – H. Butterfield

10.    War as an Instrument of Policy – M. Howard

11.    Threats of Force in International Relations – G. F. Hudson

12.    Problems of a Disarmed World – M. Howard


Chapter 2. Society and Anarchy in International Relations (Hedley Bull)

Presence of advocacy for the establishment of a world government

-           The League of Nations and the United Nations: not a diplomatic machinery in the tradition of the Concert of Europe, but as first steps towards “a world state.” (p. 36)

-           *In anarchy:

Ø  “states do not form together any kind of society; and that if they were to do so it could only be by subordinating themselves to a common authority” (p. 35).

Ø  Domestic analogy: as an individual man in a society, the states “require that the institutions of domestic society be reproduced on a universal scale” (p. 35).


*Two main purposes of the paper:

1)        to examine the opinion that “anarchy in international relations is incompatible with society, or that the progress of the latter has been, or necessarily will be, a matter of the degree to which government comes to prevail.” (p. 35)

2)        to determine “the limits of the domestic analogy and thus establish the autonomy of international relations” (p. 35-36)


*Anarchy’s incompatibility with society (3 Main Strands)

- especially prominent in the years since the WWI (19th century saw it compatible)

- even a strong voice that rejects the notion of anarchy itself – moving towards a world government, in their view.


1)       International relations in terms of a Hobbessian state of nature

-           Morality and legal rules are limited (Machiavellian)

-           Moral imperatives to endorse the self-assertion of states in relation to one another (Hegelian)

-           Social life “asserted to be the same for states as they are for individuals” (p. 38)

-           Domestic analogy that men needs government does not go further in this school – social contract of states that could end anarchy is not discussed

2)       1) + demand that “the international anarchy be brought to an end” (towards a universal state)

-           Embracing the idea of social contract, search for an alternative to international anarchy (backward-looking to Roman or to Western Christendom

-           Kant’s belief in human progress.

3)       Creating society of sovereign states (BULL) = anarchy is compatible with society

-           Cooperation among sovereign states in a society without government

-           Instead of the Hobbesian view that moral and legal rules are limited and the Kantian view that we need to progress for a higher morality, duties and rights are asserted to be attached to the members of international society.

-           Two traditions in particular: Modern international law and the balance of power system analysis (converged since 18th century)


II. (Hobbesian state of nature)


Hobbes’ quote:

“But though there had never been any time wherein particular men were in a condition of warre one against another; yet in all times Kings, and Persons of Soveraigne authority, because of their Independency, are in continual jealousies, and in the state and posture of Gladiator; having their weapons pointing, and their eyes fixed on one another; that is, their Forts, Garrisons and Guns, upon the Frontiers of their Kingdomes; and continual Spyes upon their neighbours; which is a posture of war.”[1]


Hobbes’ Anarchy (war against all; absence of international society) - Three principal characteristics, which in turn disputed/negated by theorists of international society:

1)       There can be no interactions (“no industry, agriculture, navigation, trade or other refinements of living, because the strength and invention of men is absorbed in providing security against one another”) p. 40-41

2)       There are no legal or moral rules

3)       State of nature is a state of war: ‘such a warre, as is of every man, against every man’[2]

-           Presence of war -> the idea that “states do not form a society” (p. 42)

Ø  (disputed) in relevance of modern state: “If sovereign states are understood to form a society… whose operation not merely tolerates certain private uses of force but actually requires them – then the fact of a disposition to war can no longer be regarded as evidence that international society does not exist.” “war… as a part of its functioning” – “international society [as]… a means of settling political conflicts” (p. 43).


Criticism: “distils certain qualities that are present in the situation of international anarchy at all times and in all places and that in certain areas and at certain moments seem to drive all other qualities away.”



Ø  Locke’s conception of a society without government (private use of force tolerated and even required in certain circumstances)

Ø  Turn to modern anthropological studies of actual societies of this kind, which have been ‘forced to consider what, in the absence of explicit forms of government, could be held to constitute the political structure of people.’”(p. 44):

- principle of ‘hue and cry’

- ritual

- loyalty


ð  Yet, “at some point abandon the domestic analogy altogether” (p. 45) to deepen the subject matter and “also because international society is unique, and owes its character to qualities that are peculiar to the situation of sovereign states, as well as those it has in common with the lives of individuals in domestic society.” (p. 45)


Main differences between international society and domestic analogy:


1) international anarchy, unlike Hobbes’ view, provides “conditions in which the refinements of life can flourish” (p. 45)

2) “states have been less vulnerable to violent attack by one another than individual men” (p. 46) – reinforced by 3)

3) states have not been equally vulnerable

- distinctions between Great Powers and small, e.g. Great Britain in 19th century – “insecurity… exists in international society… not distributed equally among all its members” (p. 46)

4) “states in their economic lives enjoy a degree of self-sufficiency beyond comparison with that of individual men” (p. 47)



“As against the Hobbesian view that states find themselves in a state of nature which is a state of war, it may be argued, therefore, that they constitute a society without a government. This society may be compared with the anarchical society among individual men of Locke’s imagining, and also with primitive anarchical societies that have been studied by anthropologists. But although we may employ such analogies, we must in the end abandon them, for the fact that states form a society without a government reflects also the features of their situation that are unique. The working of international society must be understood in terms of its own, distinctive institutions. These include international law, diplomacy and the system of balance of power” (p. 48)



III. (Universal State (System) or Society?)


*Criticism on Kant in Perpetual Peace:

Hobbesian domestic analogy to IR and the state of nature + the idea of social contract

Ø  Criticism: This is a “dilemma” as “the description… of the actual condition of international relations, and the prescription in provides for its improvement, are inconsistent with one another.” (p. 48)

Ø  Thus, the advocate of a universal state: Kant’s scheme is “feasible as well as desirable only by admitting that international relations do not resemble a Hobbesian state of nature.” (p. 49)

Ø  Solution may be to replace Hobbesian view with Lockean one => “to crown the anarchical society with a government” (p. 49)…


However, the limits of such universal state:

Ø  Limited role of universal state: “a universal state should be understood as providing, just as does the system of sovereign states, a particular solution to the problem of the management of violence, rather than a means of transcending it” (a universal state does not abolish war completely by eliminating the relationship between sovereign states) (p. 49)

Ø  International society rather than international system (universal state): “Formidable though the classic dangers are of a plurality of sovereign states, these have to be reckoned against those inherent in the attempt to contain disparate communities within the framework of a single government. It is an entirely reasonable view of world order at the present time that it is best served by living with the former dangers rather than by attempting to face the latter.” (p. 50)


Overall, Bull rejects here the Hobbesian view of international relations as a state of war, by using Hobbes's own arguments, so as to explain why the Hobbesian nature of state is different from/more bearable among nations than the perpetual struggle among individuals, and therefore why a universal state (Leviathan)/world government is not necessary nor desirable.



*Hedley Bull's Originality:

1) International society rather than system:

> System as contract between states and the impact of one state on another

> Society as common interests and values, common rules and institutions (Grotian approach)

     - Grotian conception of international society (the central Grotian assumption = solidarity of states in international      
         society, with respect to the enforcement of the law) – the solidarist conception, opposed to pluralists (Chp. 3)


2) His theory of change (emanating from 1))

Interested in society, Bull is interested in cultural change that causes a different perception of common interests

(Unlike Gilpin: change in international affairs as the rise and fall of hegemonic powers; Waltz: change as the result of shifts in the distribution of power between states, leading from a bipolar to a multipolar system, or vice versa).


ANARCHICAL SOCIETY (anarchy as absence of rule)

ð  Criticisms: Tension between his realisms and emphasis on the rules and institutions (also the community of culture) which are to dampen the anarchy.


[1] Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. Xiii, p. 65

[2] Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. Xiii, p. 66

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[IR-Anarchy and Cooperation] Axelrod, Robert (1984) The Evolution of Cooperation

[연구] Research 2014. 8. 7. 14:47

Axelrod, Robert (1984) The Evolution of Cooperation 관련 유용.

The Evolution of Cooperation: Revised Edition

Axelrod, Robert 지음
Basic Books | 2006-12-04 출간
Updated for the first time, the cla...
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ü  Axelrod, Robert (1984) The Evolution of Cooperation, chs. 2 & 9



Axelrod’s experiment is a profound work in the application of game theory to political science, shedding new lights to how states can cooperate in the neorealist setting. Based on the use of theory, computer simulation, and historical examples, Axelrod argues here for the possibility of cooperative strategies in the world of perpetual rivalry (anarchy). Unlike the realist tenet that power maximization - zero-sum game (at the expense of others) is the best way of survival, Axelrod’s notion of reiterated interactions (reiterated prisoner’s dilemma) enlightens how states’ encounters are rarely one-time based in reality, how they are able to learn the consequences of their strategies in long term (shadow of future), which in turn create the incentives for egoist actors to cooperate rather than defect despite the absence of any central authority. Following Axelrod’s logic/perspective of the world where actors interact in multiple times, a system of reciprocity becomes a possible cooperative solution: Viewed in this way – reiterated games – evolution of cooperation is viable among these rational egoist states as “The foundation of cooperation is not really trust, but the durability of relationship... Whether the players trust each other or not is less important in the long run than whether the conditions are ripe for them to build a stable pattern of cooperation with each other (p. 182).” Furthermore, “The individuals do not have to be rational: the evolutionary process allows the successful strategies to thrive, even if the players do not know why or how (p. 174)”; “Likewise, there is no need to assume trust between the players: the use of reciprocity can be enough to make defection unproductive. Altruism is not needed: successful strategies can elicit cooperation even from an egoist. Finally, no central authority is needed: cooperation based on reciprocity can be self-policing (p. 175).”

As a sidenote, Axelrod’s discovery of reiterated game (shadow of future – anticipation of continued interaction, that states’ encounters are not one-time based) counters Mearsheimer’s central argument (offensive realism) that states possess the incentives to use offensive strategies to maximize their rate of survival. Instead, Axelrod’s notion on “limited provocability” is in agreement with Waltz’s proposal of the defensive realist theory, that it is “actually better to respond quickly to a provocation” but not defect first (TIT FOR TAT strategy).

Overall, Axelrod’s work is a highly honorable approach to social science, in which he devotes to go beyond mere explanation of the world and create a system where cooperation and peace become possibility (solution-oriented approach) – a respectable question, experiment, and creativity on how to promote cooperation and avoid a Hobbesian war of all against all.


Yet, some criticisms:

-    Applicability to real world – Prisoner’s dilemma with non-interruptable communication: unlike the designed setting of the game, the real world involves multiple channels of communication among the two parties(states). Also, the real world prospect of cooperation depends not only on the pairs of cooperation but also on multiple parties and overlapping pairs of relationships (Games).

-    Individual game to collective game decreases the solidity of Axelrod’s results

-    Additionally, some scholars have questioned Axelrod’s use of WWI trench example…

-    Note on the possibility of misperception: TIT FOR TAT proved to be the best rule, although “it got into a lot of trouble when a single misunderstanding led to a long echo of alternating retaliations, it could often end the echo with another misperception” (p. 183) -> In reality, states’ dislike or fear of the costs of trials-and-errors are in many cases insurmountable and/or detrimental – can states afford to practice?

-     Implications are in no doubt strong, but implementation prospect should be less optimistic than how Axelrod describes.


Table of Contents (Axelrod)


PART I. Introduction

1.       The Problem of Cooperation

PART II. The Emergence of Cooperation

2.       The Success of TIT FOR TAT in Computer Tournaments

3.       The Chronology of Cooperation

PART III. Cooperation Without Friendship of Foresight

4.       The Live-and-Let-Live System in Trench Warfare in World War I

5.       The Evolution of Cooperation in Biological Systems (with William D. Hamilton)

PART IV. Advice for Participants and Reformers

6.       How to Choose Effectively

7.       How to Promote Cooperation

PART V. Conclusions

8.       The Social Structure of Cooperation

9.       The Robustness of Reciprocity


Tournament Results


Proofs of the Theoretical Propositions






-          Problem: Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma = both mutual gains from cooperation and also exploitation are possible.

-          To find the best strategy: A computer simulation - Computer Prisoner’s Dilemma Tournament (1st round: invited game theorists in economics, psychology, sociology, political science, and mathematics for entries -14 entries in total)

-          Best strategy: TIT FOR TAT – “merely the strategy of starting with cooperation, and thereafter doing what the other player did on the previous move” (preface p. viii)

-          2nd round of computer hobbyists and other professors in evolutionary biology, physics, and computer science, in addition to the fields in the 1st round, again proved TIT FOR TAT as the best strategy (RECIPROCITY)

-          Results extended to the question of fostering cooperative conditions among individuals, organizations, and nations… 3 part MAIN Arguments:

1)       TIT FOR TAT is the effective strategy in iterated prisoner’s dilemma (begin by cooperation then do what your opponent did in the previous step)

2)       This strategy as the best strategy in important real-life settings (WWI trench example- start by cooperating and this continues)

3)       Evolutionary: this strategy is natural and hence expect this to prevail in nature

-          Evolutionary Perspective on cooperation (reiteration, shadow of future, tit for tat): Unlike the common one-time play of the prisoner’s dilemma of the time, Axelrod’s reiterated version showcased how straightforward cooperation can outcompete the benefits of defection.


Chapter 1. The Problem of Cooperation

*Main Question:

“Under what conditions will cooperation emerge in a world of egoists without central authority?”

Ø  “a world of egoists”: state as the actor, selfish (Hobbes, Morgenthau)

Ø  “without central authority”: anarchy (structural condition – Waltz)

= A question for cooperation in the neorealist setting of the world

=Solution: design a system of cooperation (tit-for-tat – reiterated games) = Neoliberal Institutionalism.


“The approach of this book is to investigate how individuals pursuing their own interests will act, followed by an analysis of what effects this will have for the system as a whole. Put another way, the approach is to make some assumptions about individual motives and then deduce consequences for the behavior of the entire system” (p. 6) 

“to develop a theory of cooperation that can be used to discover what is necessary for cooperation to emerge” (p. 6)

*Chapter devoted to introduction and discussion on the original Prisoner’s Dilemma

“What is best depends in part on what the other player is likely to be doing. Further, what the other is likely to be doing may well depend on what the player expects you to do” (Chapter II. p. 27) - *Both parties end up in a mutually despised outcome but cannot commit to the better result due to their selfish individual incentives.


Chapter 2. The Success of TIT FOR TAT in Computer Tournaments

*Limitations of previous literatures on Prisoner’s Dilemma:

1)       Do not reveal very much “about how to play the game well” (p. 29)

2)       Mostly one-time, first-time played game analysis

3)       “All together, no more than a few dozen choices” have been analyzed… (p. 29)

4)       Even the ones that focus on “strategic interaction” are limited, studying the dilemma that is “designed to eliminate the dilemma itself by introducing changes in the game” (p. 29)


*New experiment needed = a computer tournament among game theorists in the above mentioned five disciplines (1st round)

- New setting (non-zero-sum setting) should account for the “Two important facts about non-zero-sum settings” (p. 30)

Ø  Information on other’s strategies - “what is effective depends not only upon the characteristics of a particular strategy, but also upon the nature of the other strategies with which it must interact” (p. 30)

Ø  Information on the history – “An effective strategy must be able at any point to take into account the history of the interaction as it has developed so far.” (p. 30)


*New Experiment:

-          Round robin tournament (each entry paired with each other entry) + RANDOM (a program that randomly cooperates and defects with equal probability)

-          Each game: 200 moves

-          Mutual cooperation: 3 points for both players

-          Mutual defection: 1 point for both players

-          One defect, the other cooperate: defector 5 points, cooperator 0 points

-          Overall, benchmark for good performance is 600 points (always cooperating) and very poor performance at 200 points (always defecting)

-          Result: TIT FOR TAT, submitted by Professor Anatol Rapoport (Univ. Toronto) won – “playing what the other player did on the previous move” (p. 31)


*Important Findings:


-          The value of cooperating first: all of the eight top-ranking entries were “nice”; that is, they never defected first, at least not until near the end of the game. The “meanies,” which tried to take advantage of the programs that cooperated, often by clever and devious methods, were defeated by a wide margin.

-          The value of forgiving: “One of the main reasons why the rules that are not nice did not do well in the tournament is that most of the rules in the tournament were not very forgiving.”

-          The long-term danger of defection (“echo effect”): “A major lesson of this tournament is the importance of minimizing echo effects in an environment of mutual power. When a single defection can set off a long string of recriminations and counterrecriminations, both sides suffer.” (p. 38)


*Interesting strategies:


1)       DOWNING – “outcome maximization” principle – deliberating to attempt to understand the other player and then make a choice (probability of other player cooperating after one cooperates and probability of other player cooperating after one defects – each move “updating the estimate of these two conditional probabilities and then selects the choice which will maximize its own long-term payoff”) (p. 34)

Ø  Yet doomed to defect on the first two moves for the deliberation process…


2)       FRIEDMAN – lowest scored, least forgiving – “unforgiving rule that employs permanent retaliation. It is never the first to defect, but once the other defects even once, FRIEDMAN defects from then on.” (unlike TIT FOR TAT which “lets bygones be bygones” (p. 36)


3)       JOSS – “a sneaky rule that tries to get away with an occasional defection… it always defects immediately after the other player cooperates. But instead of always cooperating after the other player cooperates, 10 percent of the time it defects after the other player cooperates. Thus it tries to sneak in an occasional exploitation of the other player” (p. 36)


*2nd round (62 entries), many attempted to develop a better and more complex program – yet the original simple TIT FOR TAT still proved to be the best.


*Better Rules do Exist:

Ø  TIT FOR TWO TATS rule: defecting only if the other player defected on the previous two moves -> against our common perception, more gains were made from being even more forgiving (p. 39)


Ø  Slight modification of DOWNING (now assuming that other players would be responsive rather than unresponsive)


*Three levels of analysis on choice:

1)       First level = analysis of the direct effect of a choice

2)       Second level = analysis of the indirect effects

3)       Third level = Tertiary effects… 부메랑 에펙트와 유사… (“echo effects”)

Axelrod draws significant conclusions on the prospect for cooperation: “Mutual cooperation can emerge in a world of egoists without central control by starting with a cluster of individuals who rely on reciprocity.” Furthermore, considering the overall success of TIT FOR TAT, the value of being “nice” and “forgiving” must be noted. Yet, it is also noted that too forgiving strategies (TIT FOR TWO TATS), not retaliating immediately, are unable to survive the game.


Chapter 9. The Robustness of Reciprocity

Main Concluding Remarks: The value of reciprocity in the prospect of cooperation


*Value of a system, institution that fosters reciprocity:

“The main results of Cooperation Theory are encouraging. They show that cooperation can get started by even a small cluster of individuals who are prepared to reciprocate cooperation, even in a world where no one else will cooperate. The analysis also shows that the two key requisites for cooperation to thrive are that the cooperation be based on reciprocity, and that the shadow of future is important enough to make this reciprocity stable. But once cooperation based on reciprocity is established in a population, it can protect itself from invasion by uncooperative strategies” (p. 173)


*Only required info:

1) History of interactions

2) Information on others’ strategies (shadow of the future deliberation)


But what is most interesting is how little had to be assumed about the individuals or the social setting to establish these results. The individuals do not have to be rational: the evolutionary process allows the successful strategies to thrive, even if the players do not know why or how. Nor do the players have to exchange messages or commitments (p. 174)… Likewise, there is no need to assume trust between the players: the use of reciprocity can be enough to make defection unproductive. Altruism is not needed: successful strategies can elicit cooperation even from an egoist. Finally, no central authority is needed: cooperation based on reciprocity can be self-policing. (p. 175)”


*Overall Cooperation Solution: Institution based on the norm of reciprocity:

-           Examples:

Ø  Diamond markets (“The key factor is that the participants know they will be dealing with each other again and again” p.178)

Ø  Ordinary business transactions (“based upon the idea that a continuing relationship allows cooperation to develop” p. 178)


-           “The importance of future interactions can provide a guide to the design of institutions. To help promote cooperation among members of an organization, relationships should be structured so that there are frequent and durable interactions among specific individuals.” (p. 180)

-           “The foundation of cooperation is not really trust, but the durability of relationship. When the conditions are right, the players can come to cooperate with each other through trial-and-error learning about possibilities for mutual rewards, through imitation of other successful players, or even through a blind process of selection of the more successful strategies with a weeding out of the less successful ones. Whether the players trust each other or not is less important in the long run than whether the conditions are ripe for them to build a stable pattern of cooperation with each other” (p. 182).


*Note on the possibility of misperception: Still, TIT FOR TAT proved to be the best rule, although “it got into a lot of trouble when a single misunderstanding led to a long echo of alternating retaliations, it could often end the echo with another misperception” (p. 183)


*Note on “limited provocability” and the “speed of response”

(in line with Waltz’s defensive realism):

-           “one of my biggest surprises in working on this project” (p. 184)

-           “one should be slow to anger” – the results demonstrate that “it is actually better to respond quickly to a provocation. It turns out that if one waits to respond to (p. 184) uncalled for defections, there is a risk of sending the wrong signal. The longer defections are allowed to go unchallenged, the more likely it is that the other player will draw the conclusion that defection can pay. And the more strongly this pattern is established, the harder it will be to break it… By responding right away, it gives the quickest possible feedback that a defection will not pay.” (p. 185)

-           yet, the danger of provocability – echo effect and the continuation of the conflict

ð  “Limited provocability is a useful feature of a strategy designed to achieve stable cooperation (p. 187)”


“It is precisely when this anticipation of future interaction, breaks down that an external authority is invoked.” (p. 179)


*As concluding remark, Axelrod admits the slow and painful process of instilling reciprocity in the international system:

“The core of the problem of how to achieve rewards from cooperation is that trial and error in learning is slow and painful. The conditions may all be favorable for long-run developments, but we may not have the time to wait for blind processes to move us slowly toward mutually rewarding strategies based upon reciprocity. Perhaps if we understand the process better, we can use our foresight to speed up the evolution of cooperation” (p. 191)



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[IR-Power and Classical Realism]

[연구] Research 2014. 7. 25. 19:12

The Tragedy of Great Power Politics

Mearsheimer, John J. 지음
W W Norton & Co Inc | 2003-01-01 출간
A decade after the end of the Cold ...
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Overview (Mearsheimer)

Offensive Realism - Great Powers Behavior – Perpetual Rivalry

Ø  Main Cause: International System (Anarchy)  (d. Hobbesian, Morgenthau’s classical realism)

Ø  Goal: Survival

Ø  Best Strategy: Maximization of Power at the expense of other rivals (vs. Waltz’s defensive, structural realism)

Ø  Result: Zero-sum perpetual competition, offensive great powers


Mearsheimer’s pessimistic outlook on peace = firm neorealist outlook (Structural theory of international politics)

ð  State actors (Rational) – Structure (Anarchy) – Competition(Zero-Sum) – Maximization of power - Survival

“Hopes for peace will probably not be realized, because the great powers that shape the international system fear each other and compete for power as a result. Indeed, their ultimate aim is to gain a position of dominant power over others, because having dominant power is the best means to ensure one’s own survival (p. xi, Preface)”

Chapter I. Introduction

1.      Firm pessimism on the idea of “perpetual peace(p. 1)” among the great powers

-          Although without outright war, conflicts, competitions persist (e.g. US army bases around the globe, Germany, Japan, China-US on Taiwan) (p. 2)

2.      Great Power Behaviors:

-          Overriding goal = Power Maximization: “maximize its share of world power (p.2)” (power maximization)

-          Perpetual Competition: “rarely content with the current distribution of power”; “almost always have revisionist intentions”; “the desire for more power does not go away, unless a state achieves the ultimate goal of hegemony”; and since “no state is likely to achieve global hegemony, however, the world is condemned to perpetual great-power competition” (p.2)

-          Offensive: “Simply put, great powers are primed for offense(p.3)”

3.      “Why do great powers behave this way” (His Main Question) = “the structure of the international system forces states which seek only to be secure nonetheless to act aggressively toward each other” (His Main Answer – via Structure) (p. 3) = anarchic structure

-          Critical comparison point to classical realism (human nature – Hobbes)

-          3 features of international system pinpointed – anarchy – fear - uncertainty:

1)      “absence of a central authority” above all states (p.3)

2)      “states always have some offensive military capability” (p.3)

3)      Uncertainty: “states can never be certain about other states’ intentions” (p.3)


4.      Offensive Realism (His Theory):

-          Main Task:

1)      Explaining the Great powers behaviors

2)      Explaining the history of politics: To address 8 “historical puzzles(p. 6)

Ø  What accounts for the three longest and bloodiest wars in modern history? The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, WWI, WWII

Ø  What accounts for the long periods of relative peace in Europe (1816-1852, 1871-1913, and esp. 1945-1990, during the Cold War)

Ø  Why did UK not build a powerful military and try to dominate Europe in the mid-19th

Ø  Why was Bismarckian Germany (1862-90) especially aggressive between 1862-1870, but hardly aggressive at all from 1871 until 1890

Ø  Why did the UK, France, Russia form a balancing coalition against Wilhelmine Germany before World War I, but fail to organize an effective alliance to contain Nazi Germany?

Ø  Why did Japan and the states of Western Europe join forces with US against the Soviet Union in the early years of Cold War, even though the US emerged from WWII with the most powerful economy in the world and a nuclear monopoly?

Ø  What explains the commitment of American troops to Europe and Northeast Asia during the 20th century? E.g.Why did the US wait until April 1917 to join WWI?

Ø  Why did the US and the Soviet Union continue building up their nuclear arsenals after each had acquired a secure second-strike capability against the other?

3) Make predictions about great-power politics in the 21st


5.      Liberalism vs. Realism (pp. 14 – 22) => His Theory


*Morgenthau’s classical realism (human nature)[1] and Waltz’s defensive realism (system, structure) – structural realism (mere aim is to survive, attention on the balance of power – “anarchy encourages states to behave defensively and to maintain rather than upset the balance of power(Mearsheimer, p. 20)” )[2] = human nature for competition vs. structure that drives the competition


6.      Important distinction between his theory of offensive realism:

-          Difference between Mearsheimer (offensive) and Waltz’s defensive/structural realism:

On the question of how much power states want: there are “powerful incentives for states to look for opportunities to gain power at the expense of rivals, and to take advantage of those situations when the benefits outweigh the costs. A state’s ultimate goal is to be the hegemon in the system”

-          Difference between Mearsheimer and Morgenthau:

Competition-prone but not due to personalities/nature, but caused by the structure, which makes competition the best way for survival– “survival mandates aggressive behavior (p. 21)”

-          In between Morgenthau and Waltz.


Virtues and limits of his theory: 

-          abstraction (“broad-gauged” but “a powerful flashlight in a dark room” (p. 11) => supplementary theories, employ “more fine-grained theories such as deterrence theory” (p. 11)

-          descriptive and prescriptive


7.      Plan of the book = 6 questions on power

1)      Why do great powers want power?

2)      How much power do they want/ is enough? (= structure)

3)      What is power? (indicators?)

4)      What strategies do states pursue to gain power or to maintain status-quo (balancing and buck-passing)

5)      What are the causes of war?

6)      When do threatened great powers balance against and when do they do buckpassing?


Chapter 2. Anarchy and the Struggle for Power


His answer to why great powers vie each other = structure that makes it the best way of survival


1.      Bedrock Assumptions (Five):

1)      “anarchy” (international system) – “an ordering principle” not chaos (p. 30)

2)      Great powers’ “inherent offensive military capability”(p. 30)

3)      Uncertainty about other states’ intentions” (p. 31).

4)      “survival” as the primary goal (p. 31)

5)      States as “rational actors” (p. 31)


2.      State Behavior (pp. 32-36)

Anarchy – Uncertainty – Survival – Self-help – Self-interest – absolute vs relative power


3.      Calculated Aggression

4.      Hegemony’s Limits (pp. 40-42) (hegemonic world limited in reality => perpetual competition is inevitable)

5.      Power and Fear

6.      Hierarchy of State Goals

7.      Cooperation among states


“In sum, my argument is that the structure of the international system, not the particular characteristics of individual great powers, causes them to think and act offensively and to seek hegemony. I do not adopt Morgenthau’s claim that states invariably behave aggressively because they have a will to power hardwired to them. Instead, I assume that the principal motive behind great-power behavior is survival. In anarchy, however, the desire to survive encourages states to behave aggressively. Nor does my theory classify states as more or less aggressive on the basis of their economic political systems. Offensive realism makes only a handful of assumptions about great powers, and these assumptions apply equally to all great powers. Except for differences in how much power each state controls, the theory treats all states alike.” (pp. 53-54).

-Rationality - Are we, are they so rational

-Competition(Zero-Sum)? Material capability based on what.

[1] Politics Among Nations (1973)

[2] Theory of International Politics 

George Orwell (1936) “Shooting an Elephant,” New Writing (Autumn).

Short Essay

-          Setting in Moulmein, Burma (Myanmar) in the 1920s when the country was a province of India (British empire)

-          Main character: Young Englishman police officer in Burma


Plot overview

-          Police officer of the British empire (Englishman) acknowledges and is troubled by the unjust practices of occupation in Burma

-          Yet, the Burmese always make mockery of him (offensive)

-          Then one day, a wild elephant roams around a village, killing one man.

-          The officer with rifle is called for by the Burmese, who expect him to shoot the elephant (high expectations, roars in the crowd)

-          But he knows that his small rifle is very weak for confronting the elephant (calculated aggression)

-          Fortunately, when the officer arrives at the scene, the wild elephant has already calmed down. And to his better judgment, the elephant should be kept on hold rather than shooting it (cost). Also, he knows that the rifle is not strong enough in case the elephant becomes violent again.

-          Despite his better judgment, the officer shoots the elephant to kill. Several shots (Gruesome imagery here)


Overall, three conflicts:

-          Unjust practices of occupation in Burma (external structure/conflict)

-          Burmese disregard/mockery on the main character (external structure/conflict)

-          Conflict within the character (self-image and conscience – internal conflict)


Good story to overview/question the key assumptions of realism, esp. Mearsheimer’s

-          Offensiveness is not the internal character but external structure imposed on the actor – system drives the offensiveness (Mearsheimer)

-          Calculated aggression

-          Yet, question on the rationality – despite calculated aggression, the main character shoot the elephant -> actors vie for the maximization of material capability or immaterial?

-          Rationality question -> internal question again? (something inherent in the actor that drives the offensiveness and competition?)


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[IR-Theories Evidences Inferences] Kuhn, Thomas (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

[연구] Research 2014. 7. 15. 18:38

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Kuhn, Thomas S. 지음
University of Chicago Press | 2012-04-27 출간
A good book may have the power to c...
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 Kuhn, Thomas (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, The University of Chicago Press.

Overview (Kuhn)

Paradigm, a concept now so exhaustively used, is a key concept in understanding Kuhn’s illustration of scientific progress. A scientific revolution, extraordinary science occurs when the paradigm becomes fundamentally transformed and/or replaced by another. While the concept is not strict in definition, Kuhn uses the term to refer to a conceptual matrix of facts, theories, methods, and assumptions that provides a shared context and model for practitioners. 

According to Kuhn there are three different phases (although not linear) to scientific progress. First is what he terms “normal science,” a conceptual matrix(paradigm) of facts, theories, methods, and assumptions that have been already established. With the disciplinary framework, a shared foundational apparatus provided, practitioners have a context and model for puzzle-solving. And by using such shared apparatus, this puzzle-solving in normal science remains within the boundaries of existing paradigm, becoming largely about confirmation and/or precision of the existing paradigm.

A crisis occurs, however, when the normal science can no longer solve the puzzles and causes practitioners to question the applicability of the current science. Amongst many alternatives, a paradigm that seems to best solve the puzzle (not that it is a better representation of the reality) triumphs over the others until it replaces the former. Our preceding conceptual matrix is therefore fundamentally transformed and Kuhn calls this the extraordinary science or revolutionary science.


The pages of this book have made a profound change in my understanding and approach to the world… One question that still lingers is then who will be the creators/seers of the paradigm shift? How can one maintain his/her flexibility in thoughts? These are the questions that Kuhn leaves to intuition and somewhat arbitrariness: Kuhn states that scientists are often unaware of the specifics of the research paradigm and instead rely on an intuitive understanding much akin to that proposed by Wittgenstein. Also, Kuhn attempts to fill the question by referring to the role of new talents and youth: What Kuhn calls “the fundamental inventions of a new paradigm,” have been achieved either by “very young or very new to the field whose paradigm they change.” In the footnote, Kuhn further notes that this generalization about the role of youth in fundamental scientific progress “is so common as to be a cliché” and that “a glance at almost any list of fundamental contributions to scientific theory will provide impressionistic confirmation.” 

So this great task is on us and our intuitions. Fingers crossed, stay free, open, creative, and courageous… 



Introductory Essay by Ian Hacking


I.                   Introduction: A Role for History

II.                The Route to Normal Science

III.             The Nature of Normal Science

IV.             IV. Normal Science as Puzzle-solving

V.                The Priority of Paradigms

VI.             Anomaly and the Emergence of Scientific Discoveries

VII.          Crisis and the Emergence of Scientific Theories

VIII.       The Responses to Crisis

IX.             The Nature and Necessity of Scientific Revolutions

X.                Revolutions as Changes of World View

XI.             The Invisibility of Revolutions

XII.          The Resolution of Revolutions

XIII.       Progress through Revolutions






Introductory Essay by Ian Hacking

-          Kuhn’s finding that there are “scientific revolutions but also that they have a structure” (p. x)

-          “The book ends with the disconcerting thought that progress in science is not a simple line leading to the truth. It is more progress away from less adequate conceptions of, and interactions with, the world.” (p. xi)

-          “Normal science and puzzle-solving” (p. xv)

-          “paradigm” (p. xvii)

-          “anomaly” (p. xxvi), “crisis” (p. xxvii)… etc


I.                   Introduction: A Role for History


Distinction between normal science (cumulative) and scientific revolutions (non-cumulative):

Overview of scientific progress in history: Normal science dominated – rare extraordinary sciences:

“Normal science, the activity in which most scientists inevitably spend almost all their time, is predicated on the assumption that the scientific community knows what the world is like.” And the community of such normal science has the tendency to “defend” their assumptions and “suppresses fundamental novelties” that goes against their assumptions. (p. 5)


Yet again, extraordinary science is something inevitable, where normal science is limited in the ability to suppress the fundamental novelties for long… “extraordinary episodes… are the tradition-shattering complements to the tradition-bound activity of normal science” (p. 6).


*Kuhn’s examples: Copernicus, Newton, Lavoisier, and Einstein (the big discoveries…)

*Characteristics of these extraordinary sciences – “the defining characteristics of scientific revolutions” (p. 6):

-          “Each of them necessitated the community’s rejection of one time-honored theory in favor of another incompatible with it”

-          “Each produced a consequent shift in the problems available for scientific scrutiny and in the standards by which the profession determined …as legitimate.”

-          “And each transformed the scientific imagination in ways that we shall ultimately need to describe as a transformation of the world within which scientific work was done.”

-          Additionally: the new revolution “requires the reconstruction of prior theory and the re-evaluation of prior fact, an intrinsically revolutionary process that is seldom completed by a single man and never overnight”



II.                The Route to Normal Science

Further note on normal science and scientific revolutions

Kuhn’s definition of normal science: “In this essay, ‘normal science’ means research firmly based upon one or more past scientific achievements, achievements that some particular scientific community acknowledges for a time as supplying the foundation for its further practice.” (p. 10)

And the “past scientific achievements” are equivalent to Kuhn’s “extraordinary science” or scientific revolutions: e.g. “Aristotle’s Physica, Ptolemy’s Almagest, Newton’s Principia and Opticks, Franklin’s Electricity, Lavoisier’s Chemistry, and Lyell’s Geology” (p. 10)

-          Kuhn further points out here the “two essential characteristics”:

1)      “Their achievement was sufficiently unprecedented to attract an enduring group of adherents away from competing modes of scientific activity.” (p. 10)

2)      “Simultaneously, it was sufficiently open-ended to leave all sorts of problems for the redefined group of practitioners to resolve.” (p. 10-11)


Normal Science and Paradigms

As Kuhn himself clarifies, these past achievements are referred to as “paradigms” (“a term that relates closely to ‘normal science’) which he means to “suggest that some accepted examples of actual scientific practice… provide models from which spring particular coherent traditions of scientific research…” Paradigms are extensive conceptual mix that once one becomes a member of “the particular scientific community … he there joins men who learned the bases of their field from the same concrete models,” making “his subsequent practice… seldom evoke overt disagreement over the fundamentals. Men whose research is based on shared paradigms are committed to the same rules and standards for scientific practice. That commitment and the apparent consensus it produces are prerequisites for normal science… for the genesis and continuation of a particular research tradition.” (p.11)


Scientific Revolutions and Paradigms

“…transformations of the paradigms… are scientific revolutions, and the successive transition from one paradigm to another via revolution” (p. 12)


The route to normal science is therefore the replacement of normal science with another: shift in paradigms… And this appears in the following pattern from disseminated facts to conformity…:

“…During that period there were almost as many views about the nature of [X] as there were important [experimenters/thinkers], men like [A, B, C, D, E, F] and others. All their numerous concepts of [X] had something in common – they were partially derived from one or another version of the [x] that guided all scientific research of the day. In addition, all were components of real scientific theories, of theories that had been drawn in part from experiment and observation and that partially determined the choice and interpretation of additional problems undertaken in research. Yet though all the experiments were [in relation to x] and though most of the experimenters read each other’s works, their theories had no more than a family resemblance…

In the absence of a paradigm or some candidate for paradigm, all of the facts that could possibly pertain to the development of a given science are likely to seem equally relevant. As a result, early fact-gathering is a far more nearly random activity than the one that subsequent scientific development makes familiar. Furthermore, in the absence of a reason for seeking some particular form of more recondite information, early fact-gathering is usually restricted to the wealth of data that lie ready to hand. The resulting pool of facts contains those accessible to casual observation and experiment… [although] this sort of fact-collecting has been essential […] the casual fact-gatherer seldom possesses the time or the tools to be critical… Only very occasionally… do facts collected with so little guidance from pre-established theory speak with sufficient clarity to permit the emergence of a first paradigm.

No wonder, then, that in the early stages of the development of any science different men confronting the same range of phenomena, but not usually all the same particular phenomena, describe and interpret them in different ways. What is surprising, and perhaps also unique in its degree to the fields we call science, is that such initial divergences should ever largely disappear.” (pp. 14-17)


Overall, interesting logical outline of how we come to experience scientific revolutions on the basis of normal science (~ accepted and shared practices..)


Scientific revolution, extraordinary science as a strong “guide” to the whole community’s research.


III.             The Nature of Normal Science


More expansion on the nature of normal science...

Most importantly, I think, Kuhn makes here the distinction between the normal usage of the word ‘paradigm’ (normally used as “an accepted model or pattern” that permits “replication of examples”) and Kuhn’s use of the word paradigm in science: the distinction is that the paradigm in science is “rarely an object for replication” but more of a shared/accepted context that requires “further articulation and specification under new or more stringent conditions,” and this is what normal science is about – confirmation and precision of the given paradigm. (p. 23)


Normal science focuses on “three classes of problems” (p. 34):

1)      “determination of significant fact”

2)      “matching of facts with theory”

3)      And “articulation of theory”


Nevertheless Kuhn makes it clear here that normal science is of trivial value: Kuhn states that they “are also extraordinary problems” that are in many times required for extraordinary science – appearing after the “advance of normal research” (p. 34).


Point here is the almost inevitableness to depart from existing paradigms: “Inevitably… the overwhelming majority of the problems undertaken by even the very best scientists usually fall into one of the three categories outlined above. Work under the paradigm can be conducted in no other way, and to desert the paradigm is to cease practicing the science it defines…” (p. 34).


IV.             Normal Science as Puzzle-solving


Kuhn clearly concludes here that normal science can be characterized as “puzzle-solving: with the presence of strong commitment in shared context, the research becomes more or less puzzle-solving that are largely identifiable and solvable within the boundaries of the same paradigm:

“The existence of this strong network of commitments – conceptual, theoretical, instrumental and methodological – is a principal source of the metaphor that relates normal science to puzzle-solving. Because it provides rules that tell the practitioner of a mature specialty what both the world and his science are like, he can concentrate with assurance upon the esoteric problems that these rules and existing knowledge define for him. What then personally challenges him is how to bring the residual puzzle to solution.”  (p. 42)


V.                The Priority of Paradigms


Kuhn suggests here that there is a common understanding within the research community that forms the research paradigm. However he thinks that scientists are often unaware of the specifics of the research paradigm and instead rely on an intuitive understanding much akin to that proposed by Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein proposed that we know a game by its family of properties. Even if a game doesn’t have all of the properties we identify with a game, we will still be able to recognize it as such through these flexible recognition mechanisms.


Paradigms can be found as recurrent patterns (p. 43):

“Close historical investigation of a given specialty at a given time discloses a set of recurrent and quasi-standard illustrations of various theories in their conceptual, observational, and instrumental applications. These are the community’s paradigms, revealed in its textbooks, lectures, and laboratory exercises.”


Important distinction Kuhn points out here is that “shared paradigms” are not “shared rules.” (p. 43):

-          In absence of rules, paradigms can still guide research by becoming the shared context (p. 42)  – paradigm is a better and loose term, above rules, for such characteristic…

-          “paradigms could determine normal science without the intervention of discoverable rules” (p. 46).

-          “paradigms guide research by direct modelling as well as through abstracted rules. Normal science can proceed without rules only so long as the relevant scientific community accepts without question the particular problem-solutions already achieved.” (p. 48)


VI.             Anomaly and the Emergence of Scientific Discoveries


Important note: “Normal science, the puzzle-solving activity we have just examined, is a highly cumulative enterprise, eminently successful in its aim, the steady extension of the scope and precision of scientific knowledge… Normal science does not aim at novelties of fact or theory and, when successful, finds none…


Anomaly within normal science: “New and unsuspected phenomena are, however, repeatedly uncovered by scientific research, and radical new theories have again and again been invented by scientists… research under a paradigm must be a particularly effective way of inducing paradigm change. (p. 52)”


Emergence of anomaly and discoveries (process of “first paradigm” (p. 64) -> “precision-of-match”(p. 65) -> rigidity -> anomaly (against the background provided by the paradigm):

“In the development of any science, the first received paradigm is usually felt to account quite successfully for most of the observations and experiments easily accessible to that sciences’ practitioners. Further development, therefore, ordinarily calls for the construction of elaborate equipment, the development of an esoteric vocabulary and skills, and a refinement of concepts that increasingly lessens their resemblance to their usual common-sense prototypes… The science has become increasingly rigid…(p. 64) … Anomaly appears only against the background provided by the paradigm. The more precise and far-reaching that paradigm is, the more sensitive an indicator it provides of anomaly and hence of an occasion for paradigm change (p. 65)”


VII.          Crisis and the Emergence of Scientific Theories

Crisis as the “retooling”(p. 76) sign for normal science:

“Philosophers of science have repeatedly demonstrated that more than one theoretical construction can always be placed upon a given collection of data. History of science indicates that, particularly in the early developmental stages of a new paradigm, it is not even very difficult to invent such alternates. But that invention of alternates is just what scientists seldom undertake except during the pre-paradigm stage of their science’s development and at very special occasion during its subsequent evolution. So long as the tools a paradigm supplies continue to prove capable of solving the problems it defines, science moves fastest and penetrates most deeply through confident employment of those tools. The reason is clear. As in manufacture so in science – retooling is an extravagance to be reserved for the occasion that demands it. The significance of crises is the indication that they provide that an occasion for retooling has arrived (p. 76)”


VIII.       The Responses to Crisis

In face of crises, diverse responses, ultimately current paradigm called into question:

“…its different appearance results simply from the new fixation point of scientific scrutiny. An even more important source of change is the divergent nature of the numerous partial solutions that concerted attention to the problem has made available… [and in the end though] there still is a paradigm, few practitioners prove to be entirely agreed about what it is. Even formerly standard solutions of solved problems are called in question. (p. 83)”


But overall, crises are dealt mostly in one of three ways/responses:

1)      Crisis is handled

2)      Resistance to radical approaches

3)      Emergence of new candidate for paradigm


Crisis loosens the paradigm (note the use of the word “paradigm shift”): that all crises involve the blurring of paradigms:

“…crisis simultaneously loosens the stereotypes and provides the incremental data necessary for a fundamental paradigm shift. Sometimes the shape of the new paradigm is foreshadowed in the structure that extraordinary research has given to the anomaly (p. 89)”


Paradigm shift: “What the nature of that final stage is – how an individual invents (or finds he has invented) a new way of giving order to data now all assembled” (p. 90)


Important Note: He makes an interesting point here that in criticizing one theory the scientist must propose an alternative otherwise this is not the pursuit of science


IX.             The Nature and Necessity of Scientific Revolutions


Scientific revolutions: “non-cumulative developmental episodes in which an older paradigm is replaced in whole or in part by an incompatible new one.” (p. 92)


*Parallelism to political development/revolution justified as (but with caution):

- political organizations and scientific communities groups arise with significantly different values from the mainstream:

“In much the same way, scientific revolutions are inaugurated by a growing sense, again often restricted to a narrow subdivision of the scientific community, that an existing paradigm has ceased to function adequately in the exploration of an aspect of nature to which that paradigm itself had previously led the way. In both political and scientific development the sense of malfunction that can lead to crisis is prerequisite to revolution.” (pp.92-93)


X.                Revolutions as Changes of World View


“What were ducks in the scientist’s world before the revolution are rabbits afterwards” (pp. 111-112) although with some limits (p. 129):

-          “After a scientific revolution many old measurements and manipulations become irrelevant and are replaced by other instead. One does not apply all the same tests to oxygen as to dephlogisticated air. But changes of this sort are never total. Whatever he may then see, the scientist after a revolution is still looking at the same world. Furthermore, though he may previously have employed them differently, much of his language and most of his laboratory instruments are still the same as they were before. As a result, postrevolutionary science invariably includes many of the same manipulations, performed with the same instruments and described in the same terms, as its prerevolutionary predecessor… (p. 129)”

 Scientist must learn to see a new Gestalt.


XI.             The Invisibility of Revolutions

“Both scientists and laymen take much of their image of creative scientific activity from an authoritative source that systematically disguises – partly for important functional reasons – the existence and significance of scientific revolutions (p. 135)”

Revolutions are invisible because of “historical revisionism in science textbooks” – that the textbooks are written after the revolutions…


XII.          The Resolution of Revolutions

Those involved in scientific revolutions have characteristics which are different from those of scientists involved in ‘normal science’ Thus he suggests that such scientists are usually new to the field and for various reasons are not under an obligation to operate within the boundaries of the paradigm but instead are able to challenge the paradigm shift.


Models of theory validation:

-          Categorical model of theories: theory expected to account for all of the data (but unrealistic)

-          Probabilistic model (more likely): theory accounts for most of the findings

-          Contrasting: identification of evidence for the theory and falsification (Karl Popper)


XIII.       Progress through Revolutions

Here Kuhn questions what it is that makes a science.

He suggests that a strong sense of identity within a scientific discipline occurs when there is agreement within the community on past and present accomplishments.

Kuhn also suggests that although science progresses it does not necessarily progress towards any specific goal. He also reiterates the effectiveness of scientific revolutions followed by periods of normal science in developing a body of scientific knowledge. However he leaves the reader to answer the question ‘what must the world be like for us to know it?’



Written 7 years after the publication

Addresses many of the criticisms

Clarification on his definition of paradigms

*Revolution as a special renegotiation of relationships within a community

*Crises can be generated by groups other than those that experience them ~ i.e. disciplinary matrix where there is symbolic representation, shared belief and values of the scientific community.

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[IR-Theories Evidences Inferences] Fearon, James (1991) “Counterfactuals and Hypothesis Testing in Political Science”

[연구] Research 2014. 7. 15. 18:32

Fearon, James (1991) “Counterfactuals and Hypothesis Testing in Political Science,” World Politics, Vol. 43, January 1991, pp. 169-195.

In making a causal claim, that C was the cause of event E, Fearon suggests here that there are two empirical strategies: by making 1) a counterfactual case (~ if it had not been the case that C (or not C), it would have been the case that E (or not E); or 2) a comparative approach (comparison of actual cases). While counterfactual case remains underdeveloped and underacknowledged in political science (for its “speculative” approach), Fearon argues that many overlook the fact that the comparison of actual cases also requires counterfactual thoughts for serious justification and elaboration of causal claims: Even if comparison of actual cases provides us the existing samples to compare and therefore the seemingly more degree of references (evidences and therefore confidence), the process also requires counterfactual process in picking the right variables and justifying that these cases are appropriately comparable/identical… and this is more so in small-N research where there are too many variables and too few cases.


Counterfactuals: If not C, then not E

(“If it had been the case that C(or not C), it would have been the case that E(or not E).”(169).

Fearon: such propositions “play a necessary and fundamental, if often implicit and underdeveloped, role in the efforts of political scientists to assess their hypotheses about the causes of the phenomena they study” (169)

Focus on “the role of counterfactuals in small-N research” (174) – “the necessity of counterfactual argument for justifying causal claims in small-N settings… the point is that when degrees of freedom in the actual world are negative, a causal claim requires argument about counterfactual cases for its justification (or addition of other actual cases).” (180)


Main arguments:

1)      Counterfactual propositions and arguments play “a central role in the efforts of political scientists to assess their causal hypotheses” (170) – examples: i) on the causes of WWI; ii) the nonoccurrence of events such as WWIII, social revolutions, the breakdown of democratic regimes in Latin America; and iii) the origin of fascist and corporatist regimes in Latin America

2)      Counterfactual method vs. Comparison of the actual cases: This strategy is “related but also differs from methods of hypothesis testing based on the comparison of the actual cases”(170)

3)      To address the question: “Is counterfactual argument a viable means of assessing causal hypotheses in nonexperimental research settings?”(170)



1)      Section I: Outlining the differences between the two strategies of hypothesis testing: i) comparison of actual cases; and ii) counterfactual argument

2)      Section II: Showing examples of counterfactual cases in international relations and comparative politics

3)      Section III: Questioning the viability of the counterfactual strategy


Counterfactuals, Actual Case Comparisons, and the Logic of Inference

>Hypothesis: C was the cause of event E<

ð  To test this hypothesis, according to Fearon, there are “only two strategies” for “empirically”(171) assessing this hypothesis, which aim to “solve the same statistical problem” (173).

1)      Counterfactual case: Imagine C had been absent and ask whether E would have been possible…

2)      Comparison of actual cases: that resemble E but where C is sometimes absent or had different value =  testing the association between the occurrence of C & E in the set of actual cases = formally known as the regression analysis

ð  Also, we cannot but explain why some event E occurred rather than some other possible outcomes.

Note on the main risks with these strategies:

1)      Counterfactual case: “how can we know what would have happened with any degree of confidence?”(173) – a question avoided by many historians (“historian should never deal in speculations”) and also political scientists and sociologists who preferred to deal with actual cases and refrain from the question

-          Exception:

n  Weber (1949) “Objective Possibility and Adequate Causation in Historical Explanation,” in The Methodology of the Social Sciences, Free Press

n  Elster (1978) Logic and Society: Contradictions and Possible Worlds, Wiley.

n  Also addressed: Nelson Polsby (1982) What If?: Essays in Social Science Fiction, Lewis Publishing.  

2)      Comparison of actual cases: Even if the degrees of freedom have been increased (including more actual cases), how can we know “if the additional cases are appropriately identical”(173).


Case application:

1)      The Cause of WWI: by a “cult of the offensive” and belief in the advantage of striking first:

-          Actual cases comparison: set of international disputes that some escalated to war and some that did not => variables control => test for the association between “commitment to offensive doctrines and escalation”(176)

-          Counterfactual case strategy: “which often goes under the name “case study””(177) – “imagine the prewar world without a cult of the offensive but otherwise similar” (177) -> and show that “the outbreak of a general war would have been much less likely” in this counterfactual case – e.g. Stephen Van Evera who asked “How would statesmen have behaved if they had believed that defense rather than offense had the advantage?” (177)


Differences yet Similarities between the Two Strategies:

1)      Difference – dependence on other theories:

-          Counterfactual, to make its case, depends on “invoking others – laws, regularities, or principles” (177) as in Van Evera’s dependence on rationality

-          Actual case strategy – no need of “other principles,” “only a strength of association across actual cases matters” (177)

2)      Similarity: actual case strategy itself implicitly depends on counterfactuals to be confident that “the other causes would not vary” as well…

-          “when the actual case strategy is employed in a nonexperimental setting, the validity of a causal interpretation of the results in contingent on the truth of a counterfactual assumption about the other unspecified, unmeasured causes. We must be ready to accept the proposition that had variable X taken values different from those in the sample, no such other causes of the dependent variable would have been systematically different as well” (177)

3)      More differences:

-          Causal weight: actual cases can extract contrasting weights from the sample (frequencies and magnitudes can be measured); whereas counterfactuals lack in the sample for varying weight -> inevitably, “a proliferation of counterfactual cases”

-          Precision of estimates: Counterfactuals lack in criterion for gauging the risk of error associated with some independent variable. All depends on the plausibility of arguments about what would have happened.


Counterfactuals and Causation



“Counterfactuals and the counterfactual strategy of hypothesis testing play an important but often unacknowledged and underdeveloped role in the efforts of political scientists to assess causal hypotheses… any non experimental research that makes causal claims, be it of the large-N or small-N variety, must confront counterfactuals in the form of key assumptions or in the use of hypothetical comparison cases. Particularly in small-N research, the common condition of too many variables and too few cases makes counterfactual thought experiments a necessary means for serious justification of causal claims.” (p. 194)


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[IRTheories-Level of Analysis] Jervis, Robert (1976) “Perceptions and the Level-of-Analysis Problem,”

[연구] Research 2014. 7. 10. 18:19

Perception and Misperception in International Politics

Jervis, Robert, 지음
Princeton University Press | 1976-11-01 출간
This book demonstrates that decisio...
가격비교 글쓴이 평점  

Jervis, Robert (1976) “Perceptions and the Level-of-Analysis Problem,” ch. 1, in Perception and Misperception in International Politics, Princeton University Press.

Overview (Jervis)

Jervis’s renowned work Perception and Misperception in International Politics

-          Contrast to rational-choice

-          Contrast to “the traditional approach” discussed by Wolfers – “State-as-the-sole-actors approach”

-          Equivalent/Similar to Waltz’s First Image – focus on individual actors and their decision-making process

-          Main points

1.        Weaknesses of non-decision making level analysis:

1) international environment (external factor): “The environment may influence the general outline of the state’s policy but not its specific responses” (pg. 17); to test how changes in international environment alter behaviors is near impossible.

2) national/domestic determinants (internal): “If states of the same type behave in the same way, then changes in a state’s leadership will not produce significant changes in foreign policy, and we need not examine the images, values, and calculations of individual decision-makers. Unfortunately, claims about continuity in a state’s foreign policy are notoriously difficult to judge…” (pg. 22);

3) bureaucratic

2.        Decision-making approach and the perceptions and misperceptions of the world and how they diverge from reality in detectable patterns.

3.        Psychological analysis incorporated to view how decision-makers process information, and form, maintain, and change their beliefs about international relations and other actors.

4.        Presence of misperception undermine the real-world accuracy of game theoretical models

5.        (pg28) “it is often impossible to explain crucial decisions and policies without reference to the decision-makers’ beliefs and policies without reference to the decision-makers’ beliefs about the world and their images of others.” “…even if we found that people in the same situation – be it international, domestic, or bureaucratic – behave in the same way, it is useful to examine decision-making if there are constant differences between the decision-makers’ perceptions and reality” (Wolfers’ house on fire – circular logic back to decision makers)

-          Critique:

1.        Limits of psychological analysis

2.        Focus on misperception

3.        Difficulty in patternization – Theoretical rigorousness debatable

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[IRTheories-Level of Analysis] Wolfers, Arnold (1962) Discord and Collaboration

[연구] Research 2014. 7. 10. 17:51

Overview (Wolfers)

The title itself, Discord and Collaboration, is a notable implication to Wolfers’ approach to international relations: Composed of two antonyms – discord and collaboration – the title implies Wolfer’s approach to both “ends” of a spectrum in understanding the behaviors of states (actors) in international relations. This “two-ends” approach is prominent throughout Wolfers’ chapters, where Wolfers illustrates the pros and cons of each contrasting(in a sense that A’s main assumptions differ/negate B’s: e.g. realist vs. idealist) theories and concepts in international relations. In Chapter 1, Wolfers provides critique on both the structural and individual/decision-making approach in international relations – the two main strands in the level of analysis debate in international relations; Chapter 2, the concepts of both “amity” and “enmity” are debated; Chapter 3 discusses the spectrum of both the internal and external forces in foreign policy; Chapter 4, terms like “perfectionist moralist” and “nonperfectionist moralist” in the discussion of “statesmanship and moral choice”; Chapter 5, “possession goals(national interest)” versus “milieu goals”(environment, “shaping conditions beyond their national boundaries”), “direct national goals” versus “indirect national goals” and so forth. With such critique on the “both ends,” Wolfers recognizes the danger of polarization and absolutism in IR: Single theory cannot be the answer to all; by critiquing the both ends of every spectrum, Wolfers argues for flexibility in our frame of thoughts, away from resting on one idea/theory to explain the rest.

One possible critique on Wolfers’ work may be this duality in approach itself, where the discussion of the both ends makes his perspective less evident. Nonetheless, a careful reading of his lines do illustrate Wolfers’ view that the world affairs have the tendency to slant towards quests for power – within the realist-idealist continuum, Wolfers’ view lies more close to the former. And this is more clearly marked again by his title, where “Discord” precedes “Collaboration.” 

Point on the Level of Analysis in IR (Chapter I)

- State Level Analysis or Further Down...(Individuals and Corporate Bodies)...?

In respect to the level of analysis debate, Wolfers provides a chronological overview of the debate in the first chapter: Departing from the “traditional approach” – “state-as-the-sole-actors” approach (especially after the Napoleonic Wars, discovery of nation-states, and the era of European “great powers”), Wolfers points out two newly emerged approaches in the field. First is the approach that emphasizes “human individuals” (which is soon followed by the decision-making approach) – the “humanizing” process of international politics, also called as “minds-of-men approach”, and second is the emphasis on international organizations (corporate bodies). Now the state is no longer a single actor/entity, but a collection of different individuals or corporate bodies: state is no longer a blackbox and thus its behaviors can be interpreted from forces “emanating simultaneously from individuals and corporate bodies.”

Wolfers' Take: State Level Analysis supplemented by the new approaches

(pg. 24)

“While it would be dangerous for theorists to divert their primary attention from the nation-state and multi-state systems which continue to occupy most of the stage of contemporary world politics, theory remains inadequate if it is unable to include such phenomena as overlapping authorities, split loyalties, and divided sovereignty, which were pre-eminent characteristics of medieval actors.”

ð  Traditional approach and the new approaches “must supplement each other” to draw the “realistic” realities in contemporary international politics.

*Note on Wolfers’ Interesting and Important Metaphors to explain which level of analysis is appropriate at different situations:


1) House on fire (pg 13):

“Imagine a number of individuals, varying widely in their predispositions, who find themselves inside a house on fire. It would be perfectly realistic to expect that these individuals, with rare exceptions, would feel compelled to run toward the exits. General fears of losing the cherished possession of life, coupled with the start external threat to life, would produce the same reaction, whatever the psychological peculiarities of the actors. Surely, therefore, for an explanation of the rush for the exits, there is no need to analyze the individual decisions that produced it. The situation would be different if one or several members of the group had not joined the stampede, but had remained unmoved after the fire was discovered or had even failed to perceive it. Such “deviationist behavior”, running counter to expectation would justify and require intensive psychological inquiry.


2) Overheated house (pg. 13-14):

“A different situation would arise if, instead of being on fire, the house in question merely were overheated. In such a case, the second prerequisite of compulsion – serious external danger – would be absent. The reactions of different inhabitants might range all the way from hurried window-opening and loud complaints to complete indifference. To formulate expectations concerning behavior in an overheated house one would need intimate knowledge of the varying individual predispositions and of the symptoms by which they could be recognized. Here then, the decision-making approach would become necessary to supplement vague generalizations about reactions to discomfort that might be deduced from human nature in general, and such supplementation would become the more necessary the less overheated the house.”


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