Realism, Prediction, and Foreign Policy

30 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 22 Sep 2009

See all articles by Samuel Barkin

Samuel Barkin

University of Florida - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

Attempts by some contemporary realists to both claim that international politics are objectively predictable and at the same time prescribe particular foreign policies cannot hold together logically, because they are internally contradictory. The core argument of this article is that these attempts not only fail to fulfill their goal, but that the attempt to be scientific, to see the world as predictable, is ontologically incompatible with the core insight of classical realism, that we must see the world as it is, rather than as we want it to be. There are two ramifications of this observation for a realism that is not internally contradictory. The second is a prescriptive realism must be a theory of foreign policy, not a theory of systems structure. And the second is that a realism that works as a theory of foreign policy prediction needs to be reflexive, needs to examine its own assumptions and biases as an integral part of the process of studying international politics.

Suggested Citation

Barkin, Samuel, Realism, Prediction, and Foreign Policy (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1450531

Samuel Barkin (Contact Author)

University of Florida - Department of Political Science ( email )

PO Box 117325
Gainesville, FL 32611-7325
United States

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