Progress in International Relations Theory
Appraising the Field
All academic disciplines periodically appraise their effectiveness, evaluating the progress of previous scholarship and judging which approaches are useful and which are not. Although no field could survive if it did nothing but appraise its progress, occasional appraisals are important and if done well can help advance the field. This book investigates how international relations theorists can better equip themselves to determine the state of scholarly work in their field. It takes as its starting point Imre Lakatos's influential theory of scientific change, and in particular his methodology of scientific research programs (MSRP). It uses MSRP to organize its analysis of major research programs over the last several decades and uses MSRP's criteria for theoretical progress to evaluate these programs. The contributors appraise the progress of institutional theory, varieties of realist and liberal theory, operational code analysis, and other research programs in international relations. Their analyses reveal the strengths and limits of Lakatosian criteria and the need for metatheoretical metrics for evaluating scientific progress.
HardcoverOut of Print ISBN: 9780262050685 520 pp. | 9.21 in x 6.14 in
Paperback$38.00 X ISBN: 9780262550413 520 pp. | 9.21 in x 6.14 in
A most impressive effort that should stimulate a rethinking of what is meant by 'scientific progress' in developing international relations theory.
Alexander L. George
Graham H. Stuart Professor of Political Science, Emeritus, Stanford University
Using Imre Lakatos's method of scientific research programs, this volume explores in detail six different areas in international relations: realism, institutionalism, liberalism, power transition theory, the democratic peace, and psychological decision making theory. The book provides the best treatment in the international relations sub-field, and perhaps in all of political science, of the Lakatosian criteria for assessing progress in social science. The discussion ofwhat constitutes 'novel facts' in the Lakatosian framework is superb. This volume is critically important for international relations scholars because it will make them more aware of how to assess research, and how to select the best research strategies for actually making progress.
Helen V. Milner
James T Shotwell Professor of International Relations in the Department of Political Science, Columbia University