Download International Theory: Positivism and Beyond by Steve Smith PDF

By Steve Smith

This e-book brings jointly best figures who've made key contributions to the advance of overseas thought to supply an immense survey of the nation of the topic. The individuals study the conventional theoretical techniques within the self-discipline, the problems and teams which are marginalized by means of mainstream conception, and significant new advancements in overseas thought. The booklet concludes with 5 chapters that examine the way forward for the topic. This quantity could be a useful textual content for either scholars and students of diplomacy.

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International Theory: Positivism and Beyond

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I shall not summarise them here, but instead refer readers to accessible sources (see Dancy, 1985, pp. 66-84; Hollis, 1994, pp. 23-39; Bernstein, 1983, pp. 16-20; Aune, 1970, pp. 2-39). However, there are two important areas of difficulty which deserve special mention, one of which explains why rationalism has been long in decline in philosophical circles, another which poses peculiar and probably impossible problems for any rationalist attempt to explain the social sciences. The first, more general, problem is that it is clear that there is more than one 'reason', if, in Cartesian spirit, we take it to mean a deductive system based on intuitive axioms.

Although this maxim has been seriously misunderstood as equating truth with utility, notably by Bertrand Russell in his treatment of James, its meaning is simply that we need to adjust our ideas as to what is true as experience unfolds. Pragmatism, then, defines what is true as what is good in the way of belief, with good here meaning what is most useful. Pragmatism differs from foundational epistemologies such as rationalism and empiricism in that it sees all our beliefs and assumptions as subject to revision and acceptable to us because they are useful to us 24 Steve Smith in ordering our experience.

Such a thought leads us into real problems when we consider contemporary international theory debates concerning human rights; are we saying that other cultures' views of the content of human rights are wrong, or that whatever the West accepts is right? Doesn't this make 'truth' solely a function of power? Similar problems come when we think about empiricism's reactions to pragmatism; put simply what are the rules for testing theories and how might we judge when it is appropriate to dispute the results of experience?

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