POLI 142K Lecture 7: Structural and Institutional

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Published on 8 Sep 2015
School
Course
Poli Sci 142K:
Politics and Warfare
Spring 2015
Structural Theory and Institutional Theory
Week 3, Wednesday, April 15
Structural Theory (Realism)
A. Core explanatory concept: Balance of Power
B. Stable balances create self-enforcing peace (costs of war > costs of peace)
C. Unstable balances can cause war
I. Rising powers trigger preemptive war (by declining powers)
II. Survival threats: States prefer war to death
III. The problem of hegemony: hegemonic powers are objective threats
I. First Premise and First Deduction
A. First Premise: dichotomous order
1. Hierarchy or Anarchy (order = peace)
B. First Deduction: in anarchy, the balance of power is a balance of conflict.
1. Given power maximization and resource scarcity
C. Implications
1. Anarchy can be stable (if there is a balance of power that is stable)
2. But war can always occur, particularly from major power conflict
II. Second Premise and Second Deduction
A. Second Premise: Hypothesis of the Unitary Actor (states must act and choose like rational
individuals or face selection out of system)
B. Second Deduction: Rational self-interest, rational self-help: rational distrust
1. Self-interest: state survival and relative power rule out altruism
2. Self-help: most preferred strategy; alliances secondary and contingent (on necessity)
3. Distrust: in Anarchy, distrust is a rational strategy
Elementary Prisoner's Dilemma
2 players, 4 > 3 > 2 > 1.
2, 2 is the equilibrium solution
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Document Summary

Stable balances create self-enforcing peace (costs of war > costs of peace) Rising powers trigger preemptive war (by declining powers) The problem of hegemony: hegemonic powers are objective threats. First deduction: in anarchy, the balance of power is a balance of conflict. Anarchy can be stable (if there is a balance of power that is stable) But war can always occur, particularly from major power conflict. Second premise: hypothesis of the unitary actor (states must act and choose like rational individuals or face selection out of system) Second deduction: rational self-interest, rational self-help: rational distrust. Self-interest: state survival and relative power rule out altruism. Self-help: most preferred strategy; alliances secondary and contingent (on necessity) Distrust: in anarchy, distrust is a rational strategy. 2 players, 4 > 3 > 2 > 1. Applications: structural anarchy, rational war choice, security dilemma, survival threat. Core conception: rational cooperation is always preferred to war. Institutions (rule-based organizations) best explain conflict, cooperation and war.

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