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POLI 244 Lecture Notes - Rational Agent, Expected Utility Hypothesis

Political Science
Course Code
POLI 244
Stephen Saideman

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Ordering Principles
Differentiation of units
What are the relevant actors?
Who matters?
Are they distinct?
Hierarchy vs anarchy
Pattern of authority
Chain of command
Networks of equals
Relative capability
Do actors vary systematically or unsystematically in what they can do?
Structural Realism
aka Neorealism
Anarchy is the starting point
Survival is at risk
Survival of the fittest
Self-centered rational actors
Instrumentally rational: maximize goals
Expected utility
Self-Help: cannot count on anyone else
Thus increasing your security puts the security of others in danger
Anarchy is not so dangerous
Uncertainty, cheating: not survival
Systematic theorizing: processes, not just structure
How does structure affect the future outcomes
States not seen as rational actor, but generally maximizing welfare
Wider agenda
Environment protection
Other actors
e.g. BP, Al Qaeda, United Nations, Apple, Sony, etc
The actors shape the structures and vice versa
e.g. Are drivers in Montreal crazy because the roads are so poorly design, or are the
roads poorly designed because the drivers are crazy?
Anarchy is made by states as they interact
Because of our suspicions, it is a system of distrust, fear, and competition
Make states paranoiac
Countries don't want to disarm for fear other states will take the advantage
and destroy them
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