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Chapter 2

45-160 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Immanuel Kant, Maurya Empire, Complex Interdependence
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8 Pages
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Fall 2017

Department
Political Science
Course Code
45-160
Professor
Andrew Richter
Chapter
2

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CHAPTER 2 (Week 2) Theories of World Politics
Understanding World Politics
Paradigm – fundamental assumptions scholars make about the world they are studying;
- a dominant way of looking at a particular subject
- an example, model, essential pattern or theory about an area of inquiry
- Throughout history, paradigms have been revised or abandoned when their assertions have
failed to mirror the prevailing patterns of international behaviour.
- Wars especially bring significant changes to paradigms – in the 20th century:
WWI, WWII, the Cold War
Constructivism – a liberal-realist theorist approach that sees self-interested states as the key
actors in world politics, whose actions are determined by the ways states socially “construct” and
then respond to the meanings they give to world politics so that as their definitions change,
practices can adapt.
- used to explain how all paradigms depend, for their acceptance, on the extent to which
theoreticians and other groups reach general agreement (intersubjective consensus) on
the most meaningful ways to define the core concepts of international affairs and
communicate these share images and understandings
Geopolitics – the relationships between geography and politics and its consequences for states’
national interests and relative power
- created by Sir Halford Mackinder (1919) and Alfred Thayer Mahan (1890)
- Sought to generate theoretical proposition pertaining to the influence of
geographic factors on national power and international politics
- survives today as an important approach to world politics
Current history approach – a focus on the description of contemporary and particular historical
events rather than theoretical explanations to explain broader patterns of international relations
- The large-scale death and destruction from WW1 became the object of this approach
- Only looking to the past, not approach for the future and for prevention
! Scholars needed a theory that could reliably predict war and instruct leaders on the best
policies to prevent it.
- Theory – a set of propositions attempting to account for general phenomena or patterns
rather than explaining unique or individual circumstances
1. Liberalism = a paradigm predicted on the hope that the application of reason and
universal ethics to international relations can lead to a more orderly, just, and cooperative world,
The idea that international anarchy and war can be policed by institutional reforms that empower
international organization and law
- An emphasis on the impact ideas have on behaviour, the equality, dignity, and liberty
of the individual, and the need to protect people from excessive state regulation
- People should be treated as ends rather than means
- Defines politics (at the international level) as: more of a struggle for consensus than a
struggle for power and prestige
- Sometimes referred to as advocates of idealism
- The post-WWI movement inspired by the liberal theoretical tradition
- Idea: the pursuit of ideal like world peace could change the world by reducing the
disorder often exhibited in world politics
Liberal thinkers: Immanuel Kant, Richard Cobden, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John
Stuart Mill, John Locke, David Hume, Jean-Jaque Rousseau, and Adam Smith
Liberal interpretations of causes of war and determinants of peace (3 levels of analysis):
1. Individuals and human nature
2. The characteristics od states and their governing institutions
3. Attributes of a global system
Fundamental liberal beliefs:
- Human nature includes an intrinsic “good side” – people are capable of compassion and
collaboration
- The fundamental human concern for others’ welfare makes progress possible
- Sinful/wicked human behaviour – product of flawed people and evil institutions (causing
selfishness or harm)
- War and international anarchy are not inevitable, war’s frequency can be reduced
- Democratic states that protect civil liberties – natural allies for peace with one another
(against illiberal states)
- War is primarily a global problem – requires collective rather than independent efforts to
control it
- Reforms must be inspired by a compassionate ethical concern for the welfare and security
of all people
- International society must reorganize itself to eliminate institutions that make war more
likely, state systems must be reformed to protect human rights
States are to provide public goods – shared values for every actor - in exchange benefits, such as
safe drinking water or security
* even if each party to the interaction does not equally contribute to its creation or preservation
3 Main groups:
1. Advocated creating international institutions to ensure security
- Collective security – a security regime agreed to by the great powers that sets rules
for keeping peace, guided by the principle that an act of aggression by any state will
be met by a collective response from the rest (League of Nations)
2. Emphasized the use of legal processes such as mediation to settle disputes and avoid
armed conflict
- Creation of the Permanent Court of International Justice
- Kellog-Briand Pact – a multilateral treaty negotiated in 1928 that outlawed war as a
method for settling interstate conflicts
3. Sought disarmament as a means to ending war
Ideal of self-determination – the principle that the global community is obligated to give
nationalities their own governments
- Giving nationalities the right through voting to become and independent state as a means to
redraw the globe’s political geography - to make the borders of each nation conform to the
ethnic groupings.
- State – a legal entity with a permanent population, a well-defined territory, and a
government capable of managing sovereign authority over the nations or
nationality groups living within legal borders
- Nation – a collection of people who, on the basis of ethnic, linguistic, or cultural
affinity, perceive themselves to be members of the same group
Woodrow Wilson – created Fourteen Points speech to Congress (1918), proposed creating of the
League of Nations, pursuit of other liberal idealists’ aims (free trade, global harmony of states’
interests)
Very little of the liberal reform program was ever seriously attempted, and even less of it was
achieved.
Winds of international change again shifted - German and Japanese Axis powers pursued world
conquest ! enthusiasm for liberal idealism as a worldview receded.
2. Realism
- The drive for global conquest that led to WWII provoked strong criticism of the liberal
idealist paradigm – that they neglected the harsh realities of power politics and human’ innate
compulsion to put their personal welfare ahead of the welfare of others
- Led to the new paradigm realism = a paradigm based on the premise that world politics is
essentially and unchangeably a struggle among self-interested states for power and position
under anarchy, with each competing state pursuing its own national interests
Realpolitik – the theoretical outlook prescribing that countries should prepare for war in order to
preserve peace
- Roots of realist worldview from ancient Greece (historian Thucydides – account of the
Peloponnesian Wars – Athens x Sparta), Kautilya (Maurya emperor of India), and
Niccolo Machiavelli (16th c., Italian theorist) and Thomas Hobbes (17th c., English
professor)
- Realism views states as most important actors on the world stage, conflicts are inevitable
Important:
- Acquisition of power (= the factors that enable one actor to manipulate another actor’s
behaviour against its preferences)
- Self-help - the principle that in anarchy actors should rely on themselves
- State sovereignty – under the international law, the principle that the governments of states
are subject to no higher external authority
- States have freedom and responsibility to do whatever is necessary to advance the state’s
interests and survival

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Description
CHAPTER 2 (Week 2) Theories of World Politics Understanding World Politics Paradigm fundamental assumptions scholars make about the world they are studying; a dominant way of looking at a particular subject an example, model, essential pattern or theory about an area of inquiry Throughout history, paradigms have been revised or abandoned when their assertions have failed to mirror the prevailing patterns of international behaviour. Wars especially bring significant changes to paradigms in the 20 century: WWI, WWII, the Cold War Constructivism a liberalrealist theorist approach that sees selfinterested states as the key actors in world politics, whose actions are determined by the ways states socially construct and then respond to the meanings they give to world politics so that as their definitions change, practices can adapt. used to explain how all paradigms depend, for their acceptance, on the extent to which theoreticians and other groups reach general agreement (intersubjective consensus) on the most meaningful ways to define the core concepts of international affairs and communicate these share images and understandings Geopolitics the relationships between geography and politics and its consequences for states national interests and relative power created by Sir Halford Mackinder (1919) and Alfred Thayer Mahan (1890) Sought to generate theoretical proposition pertaining to the influence of geographic factors on national power and international politics survives today as an important approach to world politics Current history approach a focus on the description of contemporary and particular historical events rather than theoretical explanations to explain broader patterns of international relations The largescale death and destruction from WW1 became the object of this approach Only looking to the past, not approach for the future and for prevention Scholars needed a theory that could reliably predict war and instruct leaders on the best policies to prevent it. Theory a set of propositions attempting to account for general phenomena or patterns rather than explaining unique or individual circumstances 1. Liberalism = a paradigm predicted on the hope that the application of reason and universal ethics to international relations can lead to a more orderly, just, and cooperative world, The idea that international anarchy and war can be policed by institutional reforms that empower international organization and law An emphasis on the impact ideas have on behaviour, the equality, dignity, and liberty of the individual, and the need to protect people from excessive state regulation People should be treated as ends rather than means
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