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Is Anybody Still A Realist?
Transcript of Is Anybody Still A Realist?
Realism as a
The Degeneration of Contemporary Realist Theory
Practical Advantages and Broader Implications: Why Reformulate Realism?
Jeffrey W. Legro and Andrew Moravcsik
Department of Political Science
20090501 Jihye Yang
Problem in the Status Quo
-Lack of interest?
-Inability to make point predictions?
-Lack of empirical support for simple realist predictions?
Definition of Realism
E.H Carr, Hans Morgenthau, Kenneth Waltz
Sought to highlight the manipulation, accumulation, and balancing of power by (assumed) rational thinking statesmen by focusing on the limitation of the distribution of scarce resources in international politics
Scholars of realist thought are trying to consider other incalculable factors such as democracy, ideology, economic integration, law, and institutions into the analysis
Includes: nearly all of international relations theory (including current liberal, epistemic, and institutionalist theories)
Excludes: only the extremist of those theories (such as outright irrationality, widespread self-abnegating altruism, slavish commitment to ideology, complete harmony of state interests, or a world state).
What is a Paradigm?
Realism with other paradigms
Realism as a Paradigm
3 core assumptions
1. The Nature of the Actors: Rational, Unitary Political Units in Anarchy
2. The Nature of State Preferences: Fixed and Uniformly Conflictual Goals
3. International Structure: The Primacy of Material Capabilities
Minimal Realism in Theory
Seeks to define a distinct and coherent realist paradigm with reference to a set of assumptions less restrictive
Extreme minimal realists: realism’s distinctiveness relies solely on the existence of rational actors in an anarchic setting
From Realism to Liberalism:
Power Is What States Want It To Be
Traditional realist view assumes that state preferences are fixed and uniform.
Morgenthau and Waltz--> which fixed, uniform preferences should be ascribed to states?
Morgenthau: power itself as a goal
Waltz: survival as the ultimate goal, but allows leeway for discussion with the spectrum of seeking anything between minimal survival and world domination
- Jack Snyder on Imperialism
- Joseph Grieco on Relative Gains
NCRs emphasizes Waltz’s loose specification of state preferences by arguing that states do not simply respond defensively to threats but rather exploit power differentials to expand their influence over their external environment.
- Fareed Zakaria on 19th Century America
- Randall Schweller on Interwar Foreign Policy
- Stephen Van Evera on the Causes of War
From Realism to Epistemic Theory
Realism’s merit comes from its ability to explain social life by analysis of variation in the distribution of objective material power capabilities, rather than relying on preferences, perceptions, or norms.
However there has been a shift in the core emphases from variation in objective power to variation in beliefs and perceptions of power
- Stephen Walt on Alliances
- William Wohlforth on the End of the Cold War
- Joseph Grieco on European Monetary Integration
- Charles Glaser on Signaling and Arms Control
Refocusing Empirical Tests
Its conceptual language permits scholars to represent the theoretical implications of ongoing empirical research
Possibilities in the field of...
-War and Peace
The Virtue of Limits: Specifying Realism’s Proper Explanatory Domain
A need for realist claims to be limited to circumstances in which states are motivated by strong and symmetrical underlying conflicts in preference- overlapping territorial, economic, or ideological claims- or situations where the cost of coercion is so low (at least to one party) that its cost-effective use is feasible.
Beyond Monocausal Mania: Moving Toward Theory Synthesis
It is necessary to develop a set of well-constructed first-order theories because Multicausality without a rigorous underlying structure only muddies the waters, encouraging ad hoc argumentation and obscuring the results of empirical tests.
Clearly specifying the assumptions about state preferences involved would permit realists who seek to incorporate domestic factors to draw upon diverse forms of relevant nonrealist theory.
A commitment to "realism" should signal far more than a belief in state rationality and international anarchy
Theoretical foundations would be differentiated from other rationalist theories, generate clearer empirical predictions and contribute to more rigorus multicausal syntheses.