Liberalism as Systematic Theory

Liberalism as Systematic Theory

Liberalism as Systematic Theory April 14, 2013 Kapstein, Is Realism Dead? The Domestic Sources of International Politics Argues liberal analysis cannot claim to present an alternative theory of international politics to realism or institutionalism by merely: a) Providing an alternative account of state actions b) Pointing to problems in realism or institutionalism, or c) Providing a comprehensive theory that does

not explain international relations as well as does realism or institutionalism Kapstein: Is Realism Dead Providing an internal analysis and description of the policymaking process within a state in a way that appears to account for the action does not address the realist/institutionalist argument that it

is world structure that accounts for actions: Do not hold that nothing takes place within states, or that the pressures of the world system do not work themselves out and are expressed inside state systems, just that we do not need to understand those activities to explain state actions Argue that systems theory more comprehensive and more parsimonious Kapstein: Is Realism Dead Identification of Problems: Such identification is useful for either repairing realism/institutionalism or for spurring the search for a better theory, but in itself does not constitute a theory, or

a theory that should be used in place of those established theories. Must show that can explain what others cannot explain, that this explanation is universal, systematic and sufficiently parsimonious (or that universality and system is impossible) and that it can explain better than any other alternative. May be able to establish that theories will always fail in terms of universality and system, but then cannot claim to be universal and systematic Kapstein: Is Realism Dead Must be a persuasive theory Must be able to explain important

events and activities and do so in a sufficiently parsimonious fashion. Cannot claim to replace a parsimonious, systematic and universal theory with a long list of causal factors and claim that this is an alternative theory. Fearon: Domestic Politics, Foreign Policy, and Theories of International Relations An argument against realist and neo-realist arguments that liberal theory cannot generate a systematic theory because liberal analysis is Concerned with particular outcomes n the form of

foreign policy; realism isnt concerned with particular foreign policies but with state activities Attributes state activities to state-level factors Therefore does not have the type of universal scope that realist structuralism possesses. Liberalism is too descriptive and tied too closely to contingency to produce universally generalizable results Fearon This argument is false: Realism, as it is concerned with outcomes in the form of state activities, must describe foreign policies because it is only through

policies that states act The fact that liberal analysis is concerned with state-level variables does not mean that it can only engage in contextually limited description. Looking inside states can provide insights into variation that occurs in the context of larger and systematic analysis. Fearon: Types of Liberal Systematic Analysis Departures from expected actions: We can understand state actions by resort to state level variables in a systematic way by linking those variables to understanding why it is that

states sometimes do not act in ways that would be most advantageous to the state as a unit. 1. Theory that maps out how states would be expected to act and which the usually do act 2. Theory that explains why what happens inside states accounts for instances when states do not appear to act rationally as a unified actor. Fearon: Types of Systematic Liberal Theories Institutional Variation: Understand differences in how states react to similar situations (including being in similar structural situations)

by references to differences within states, particularly by reference to different types of institutions across states. Moravcsik, Taking Preferences Seriously: A Liberal Theory of International Politics Argues that there can be a liberal theory that is fundamental, should be taken as existing prior to realism or institutionalism (i.e., must consult it first, then turn to others to explain unexplained variation rather than

vice-versa) and which is universal and systematic in the same positivist sense as is realism and institutionalism. Moravscik: Taking Preferences Seriously Levels of analysis: 1. Individuals and groups are the basic units of political activities. They have preferences which they seek to attain and maximize. They compete and cooperate with one another in there attempts to do so.

Moravcsik, Taking Preferences Seriously States State are not actors, but the framework within which individuals and groups act to attain their preferences. Individuals and groups capture the state mechanism by which states participate in the world system, but it is not the preferences of the state or its organizations that are the real actors, but the individuals and groups within states that have captured them.

Moravcsik, Taking Preferences Seriously International System The international system is the arena within which the groups and individuals within states interact with other groups and individuals. Their interests may overlap (leading to cooperation), clash (leading to competition and possibly conflict) or be a mixture (leading to negotiations and mixtures of cooperation and conflict). Moravcsik, Taking Preferences

Seriously As a bottom up account, this theory is also systematic. It escapes the usual realist charge that liberalism utopian and idealist by holding that states are able to act on their preferences. This theory does not make that assumption; rather, state actions are conditioned by the fact that state (meaning those who control them) are acting in an environment in which decisions and activities are conditioned by others who are also attempting to attain and maximize their preferences. Moravcsik, Taking Preferences

Seriously Important to start first with an empirically convincing account of preferences, and such an account attaches preferences to individuals and groups, not to states. Such preferences also need not be understood purely within an internal domestic context, but also with references t international factors

generated by the world environment

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