Saturday, February 9, 2008

Hist A-12 Wk 1

(113 PAGES)
* Kenneth Waltz, Man, the State, and War: A Theoretical Analysis, pp.159-186, 224-238.
⊗ Robert Jervis, “War and Misperception,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History, vol. 18, no. 4 (1988), pp. 675-700.
⊗ Stephen Walt, One World, Many Theories,” Foreign Policy (Spring) 1998:29-46.

Joseph Nye, “Counterfactuals,” in Understanding International Conflicts: An Introduction to Theory and History (1st ed.), pp. 42-45.

  • Questions: How do we think about history and IR?
  • Intl politics is NOT lab science, no controlled experiments
  • too many causes, but which is more important than the others?
  • >> mental experiment = COUNTERFACTUALS
  • to determine clausal claims
  • examples:
  1. imagine the kaiser had not fired Bismarck in 1890 > his policies continue > Germany less threatening > WWI less likely?
  2. Franz Ferdinand's driver takes a left instead of right > WWI would have started or not? the role of the accidental
  • dangers: history is path dependent
  • four criteria for goodness and usefulness:
  1. Plausability: cotenability: had Napoleon used bombs he would have won XXX useless
  2. Proximity: long chain of causation: Cleopatra's nose caused WWI > too far. Keep the events close to each other
  3. Theory: what theories support it: e.g. Cold War was caused by what? 1) ideological causation or 2) balance of power theory IF US communist (or USSR capitalist) would it still have happened? Prolly yes. See communist countries fighting each other
  4. Facts: only change one thing at a time. Ceteris paribus
  • In sum: purists are against counterfactuals: just write down what actually happened, but for analysis CFs are useful bc we can think about the WHYs.

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, "Evaluating Arguments about International Politics," in Principles of International Politics: People's Power, Preferences and Perceptions (Second Edition), pp. 51-72.

In summary, this is (the first half of) Ch. 2. - importance of using theories, how to evaluate whether a theory is good or bad, how to compare two theories, case studies, wing walking principle > SCIENTIFIC METHOD

  1. Theory = simplification of reality
    1. history = description of reality vs. theory = prospective explanations of reality ! NICE
    2. assumption != hypothesis
    3. such thing as looking at "just the facts" doesn't exist: even selection of facts is shaped by theory: discourages the purist view
    4. what facts to choose: WWI ?<>
      1. statements about the expected relationships between variables
      2. e.g. arms race: independent variables: perceived threat and demand for goods (guns vs butter ???) will affect dependent variables: arms expenditures, likelihood that countries will fight a war! (SEE Athens and Sparta, and Europe in the XVIIIth century /SEE)
      3. logic > relationship of variables > predictions
      1. assumptions = building blocks, define domain where the theory will be useful (subjective choice)
      2. e.g. neorealism assumes that states are unitary actors
      3. principle of parsimony the fewer assumptions used to explain the larger amount of events or facts, the more useful the theory (better???)
    7. Judging theories
      • consistent = assumptions don't contradict each other
      1. Hans Morgenthau - perhaps the most influential IR theorist of the past several decades: status quo vs. imperialist state - but we know only after the fact + he says that all states pursue power at all cost CONTRADICTION
      2. revised: status quo vs. imperialists > doesn't describe reality > I DISAGREE I think it is perfect: one imperial state or many status quo states - that are in contact, that is
      3. Assumption in the box: can we go through? status quo states are willing to tolerate lower costs than imperial states (lower costs of what?) p.58.
      • accuracy of empirical predictions
      • value judgment != logical evidence
      • doesn't ignore unpleasant or inconvenient realities
      1. assumptions are through which theorists simplify
      2. unitary actor
      3. theory is true or false whether predictions come from its assumptions or not
    8. first principle of wing walking
      • cost of switch >?<>
      • if you are on an airplane wing, don't let go until you are damn sure that the new thing to hold on to is better
      • e.g.: Ptolemy > Kepler/Newton > Einstein; MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) >? ... Edward Teller's SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative)
    9. case study method and testing theories
      • selection bias and hindsight must be avoided
    10. standard for comparing theories
    11. (why do we need theories?)

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