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PSCI 281 -Realism and Liberalism.pdf

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University of Waterloo
Political Science
PSCI 281
Veronica Kitchen

Handout – Lecture 3, The Mainstream Major Questions: ▯ What ideas and social context underpin the paradigms of liberalism and realism? ▯ What are the similarities and differences between different theories of liberalism and realism? How does each theory explain the assumptions? Concepts and Definitions Paradigm: Set of theories that share a set of common assumptions including assumptions about epistemology and ontology. Anarchy Power Assumptions shared by realist theories: ▯ States are the most important actors in world politics ▯ Outside states, there is anarchy ▯ The most important interest of states is survival ▯ Survival can only be achieve through self-help Assumptions shared by liberal theories: ▯ individuals are not necessarily power-seeking ▯ individuals are motivated by their self-interest & rationality ▯ co-operation in the international system is possible Classical Realism: the self-help nature of the international system is explained by the selfish, power- seeking nature of individuals. Neorealism: the self-help nature of the international system is explained by the anarchy of the international system. States are undifferentiated units. Neoclassical realism: States are not undifferentiated units; domestic politics matters. What matters is not si
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