Lectures 1 and 2: Introduction
This lecture introduced students to key concepts related to theoretical thinking in the
- Definition of a Theory: description, explanation, prediction
- Deduction versus Induction
- The importance of causal mechanisms (to avoid the dangers of spurious correlation)
(how/why golfing leads to peace?)
- Testing a theory and the importance of falsification as a basis for theoretical refinement
- The role of models
LEVELS OF ANALYSIS:
- A way of organizing and simplifying data to gain explanatory power.
- Counterfactuals: a thought experiment. We need to ask, if it weren’t for this
variable, would the outcome change????
- The decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima as an example
- Can an individual change history? If we took this person out of history would we get
the same outcome?
- Personality, education, past experiences, ideology, beliefs. These are the types of
explanations we find in the individual level.
ROLE OF DECISION MAKERS:
- We think here about roles instead of people. We think about bureaucracy
- We map the interest of the actors, their information flows, like an organization.
We look at the decision making apparatus and procedures.
- If you changed the structure of decision making, would it affect the outcome?
- In IR we mainly focus on regime type (democracy, autocracy, presidential
democracy parliamentary democracies, etc): in democracy vs. autocracy would
they behave differently.
- What kind of incentives and constraints a decision maker may have in a
democratic vs. an autocratic regime? We try to explain the outcome, pattern of
behavior based on the constraints built in by the type of governments involved.
- If you were to change the structure of the government would it lead to a different
- Together with government structure, we have a level of analysis that is often
referred to as the ‘STATE’.
- We are looking at variables like size of country, poverty, structure of economy
(communist, etc), geography, culture, history, things that are unique to a society. INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS:
- Interaction between actors. The relationship between actors is the one that has led
to the outcome. Dyadic analysis.
- We can look at past experience between countries, how similar they are, are they