As we will see, there are multiple permutations of these three, as well as entirely novel versions, prevalent in the IR literature. Still, there is a tendency within the IR literature by no means universal, but still there to either equivocate between the generic sense of pragmatism and its more sophisticated cousins pale- and neo- or reduce pragmatism to one of either paleo- or neo-pragmatism's commitments, such as instrumentalism, cultural critique, experimentalism, empiricism, anti-foundationalism, anti-dualism and truth understood as the outcome of inquiry or discourse.
The question is then: To what extent are these moves equivocation and reductionism necessary for making pragmatism useful for IR theorists and researchers?
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In this section, I present the three dominant theories in the field of IR -realism, liberalism and constructivism- and trace their connections to an emerging pragmatist approach. These theories help explain how states interact on the international stage and what factors influence the outcome of international competition, cooperation and conflict 2. Besides improving our understanding of affairs between and among nations, they also help country and area experts as well as diplomats and higher-level appointees in government frame a coherent and effective foreign policy agenda.
In other words, IR theory enriches the practice of international diplomacy. Reinhold Niebuhr is often credited with being an original IR realist Wohlforth, , p. A notable theologian and philosopher of the twentieth century, Niebuhr insisted that the motivation to make wars and dominate others is innately human De Vries, ; Walt, , p. As contemporaries, he criticized Dewey for not taking seriously the "predatory self-interest" of human beings and for not seeing that power, not education, was the crucial weapon for confronting power Niebuhr, , pp.
Another classical realist, Hans Morgenthau , pp. However, the classical realism of Niebuhr and Morgenthau is far removed from the neorealism that IR scholars and practitioners embrace today 3. Following Kenneth Waltz , pp.
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Nation-states are unitary actors; some offensive realists see them as innately aggressive, while others defensive realists as preoccupied with security Walker, , p. Finally, nation-states seek to balance their power relative to other states, both internally, by accumulating resources or military-economic capabilities, and externally, by forming alliances with other nation-states with compatible interests Waltz, , pp. Although it is the dominant theoretical approach in IR, from a paleo-pragmatist standpoint, realism reflects a deep-seated absolutism: a fixed conception of state preferences or human nature for classical realists , a static view of the international environment and a value hierarchy that affords far too much purchase to raw power, and far too little to experimentation, intelligent inquiry and educative growth 4.
In contrast to realism, liberalism makes preferences, not capabilities, the central determinants of state behavior; nation-states are plural not unitary actors; and preferences vary across different states depending on economic, cultural and governance factors. So, the scope of state interaction widens to include not only actions motivated by the desire to increase geo-political power and security, but also cultural and economic development. Moreover, liberalism considers the actions of various non-state agents corporations, humanitarian organizations and individuals as relevant to the process of foreign policy formation.
For the liberal internationalist, the economic, social and political interdependence of intra-state actors becomes the model for a global order of inter-state relationships Burchill, , p. Out of liberal theory emerges the thesis that "[d]emocratic capitalism leads to peace" Doyle, , p. Consequently, the international stage no longer resembles a Hobbesian war of all against all; instead, it represents an interdependent network of actors with bountiful opportunities, particularly for liberal states to peacefully coordinate actions, build global institutions and develop cultural and social capital Milner , pp.
In one way, liberalism's orientation towards culture and economics defines it as an IR theory of common sense -and thus, it is in a very generic way an IR theory of pragmatism. Gone are many of the absolutist features of realism that pragmatists find repellent, such as fixed state motivations and a strict value hierarchy.
Rather than enshrining specific ends such as power and security for all time, the pragmatist believes that our commitments should be to selecting intelligent means, such as tools for situational problem-solving, and cultivating common-sense approaches, such as consulting best policy-making practices.
While philosophical pragmatists have endorsed versions of liberalism -for instance, Dewey's "renascent liberalism" or Rorty's "ironic liberalism" -what they reject are any metaphysical foundations or strong epistemological claims associated with its Enlightenment heritage Cochran, , p. Rather than geo-political power, security or cultural-economic factors, constructivists stress the value of ideas in crafting relationships, norms and institutions on the international stage. What constructivists label 'ideas' are threats, phobias, objectives, discourses, identities and other perceived, though not always real, factors affecting the behavior of states and non-state actors.
According to Robert Jervis , p. Emanuel Adler , p. Given the centrality of inquiry to John Dewey's pragmatism, it is tempting to infer that paleo-pragmatists would endorse some version of constructivism. Inquiry accomplishes much the same work as thought, generates the connections between ideas and renders new relationships, norms and institutions, in much the same way as constructivists believe they operate in international politics.
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However, to group Dewey with IR constructivists would be a mistake, for this operation overlooks Dewey's many writings about how experience is had, felt and undergone MW, 3, pp. Ideas and discourses do not construct the totality of our experience; neither do they thoroughly construct our particular experience of international affairs.
We just have these experiences, directly, yet mediated by the products -whether habits, ideas or norms- rendered by prior inquiries. So, what are constructed are the tools or instruments employed as means to negotiate these experiences, not the experiences themselves Prawat, , pp. Therefore, Dewey could not endorse a full-fledged version of constructivism.
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As we will see, Rorty's neo-pragmatism more closely aligns with the constructivist impulse to understand the world in predominantly normative and ideational terms. In the essay "Three Independent Factors in Morals", John Dewey expressed doubts about whether any single moral theory can be relied upon in ethical problem-solving to the exclusion of all others. To virtue theorists, he responds that the cultivation of a "scheme of virtues" is only one of "three independent variables" in moral philosophy, including the imposition of duties or "demands" deontology and the realization of ends or "goods" consequentialism LW, 5, pp.
Instead of acknowledging the utility of all three, dependent upon the specific and unique demands of emergent situations, moral philosophers "postulate one single principle as an explanation" and solution of all morally problematic situations LW, 5, p. Their mistake lies in "reducing all the elements in moral situations to a single commensurable principle", when the qualities of these situations tend to be so diverse and irreducibly complex as to defy such "oversimplified" or reductionist accounts LW, 5, p.
Instead, ethical inquiry demands a host of tools, an entire tool-kit of deontological, consequentialist and virtue-based instrumentalities to address the multitude of problematic conditions in any particular moral situation. How, then, is Dewey's essay on ethics and moral theory relevant to modeling a pragmatist approach to IR? Simply put, effective problem-solving begs for a plurality of theoretical approaches, whether the scope of the problem is local or global, moral or prudential, domestic or international.
According to Stephen M. Walt , p. Besides an endorsement of methodological pluralism, a Deweyan IR theory would bring the rigorous methods of inquiry and experimentation to a panoply of international problems, from the unfair wages and factory conditions offered by multi-national corporations, to child soldiering and human trafficking, to illicit exchanges in arms and drugs and, perhaps most importantly, to situations where military force is exercised unilaterally, whether by state or non-state actors, and for the sake of achieving narrow goals e.
Constructivism is the IR theory most compatible with neo-pragmatism. The constructivist's normative and ideational focus roughly corresponds to Richard Rorty's , endorsement of a plurality of theoretical, theological and philosophical perspectives, conversational networks, public expressions of solidarity and private quests for self-realization.
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Several IR scholars e. Brown, ; Cochran, have argued that Rorty's philosophical writings are relevant to IR theory, particularly the normative debate between communitarians and cosmopolitans. However, Rorty's , p. Moreover, unlike constructivists, Rorty is not nearly so concerned with the institutional forms that do or should govern relations between international actors Cochran, , p.
Indeed, his argument for increased solidarity or the extension of a 'we' feeling does not require respect for statist boundaries, and thus flies in face of our post-Westphalian political order. What Rorty , p. Of interest to some IR scholars, especially liberals, is Rorty's short essay on global human rights discourse, entitled "Human Rights, Rationality and Sentimentality". Indeed, Molly Cochran , pp. Instead, he prefers two long-standing and hopeful modes of thinking about the relationship between politics and economics; one, the Marxist dream of a class-less society brought about by a worker's revolution and the disappearance of capitalism; and two, the liberal technocrat's dream of "peace and technological progress [that] would make possible hitherto undreamt-of economic prosperity within the framework of the free market" p.
While radical democrats and agonistic political theorists conceive the globalization discourse as inevitably contestational, rather than cooperative, based on identity and difference, not deliberation and consensus, Rorty believes that this turn toward contestation is a sign of something far worse, namely, that we have lost, or are in the process of losing, our faith and capacity "to construct a plausible narrative of progress" akin to Marxist and Liberal utopias p. Thus, a Rortyan version of IR theory would rely heavily on the construction of alternative vocabularies and narratives, creative ways to reclaim our hope for a better political and economic future.
In the wake of the Cold War, IR scholars began to reconsider their approach to research, not only how they theorized state and non-state actor relations, but also how they understood the basic assumptions guiding their inquiries. Most pre-Cold War research was strongly positivist in orientation. Despite the widespread faith in positivism, positivist researchers failed to predict one of the most important recent events in the history of international relations: the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Nevertheless, prediction is not the sole function of IR research -or for that matter, social science research generally. More commonly, especially among po-sitivists and neo-positivists, research serves an explanatory function, following a highly rigorous and technical procedure, such as devising a research question, operationalizing concepts, constructing hypotheses, choosing theories to test, selecting a research design e. Alternative approaches have also gained a foothold in the IR research community, some competing with positivist methodologies often referred to as post-positivist and others complementing or supplementing them: i exploratory research tentative or working hypotheses, focus groups, field research, case studies, structured interviews and document analysis , ii descriptive research surveys, content analysis, and simple disruptive statistics, such as mean, median, mode, percentages, t-statistic and iii understanding or verstehen oriented research appreciation of agent-dependent meanings, ideal-types, case studies, document analysis, structured interviews, deep, thick or phenomenological description.
Though positivism still dominates IR research, methodological eclecticism or pluralism in the choice of research tools has gained greater acceptance, especially among IR constructivists and pragmatists, but not without an associated cost, namely, uncertainty and contestation at the margins about what constitutes good social scientific research.
Rather than outline an ambitious program for IR research in the pragmatist tradition, I pursue a more modest plan, canvassing some of the extant literature on pragmatism and IR research methods and then offering a short list of suggestions for how IR scholars might proceed to integrate the lessons of philosophical pragmatism, both classical and new, into their varied research approaches. According to Cochran, "an important part of the appeal of positivism within the discipline of International Relations IR is the belief that it represents the application of science to the study of world politics" and "its promise of the steady accumulation of objective, and therefore reliable, knowledge about how world politics work" p.
While positivism has come under attack for its many shortcomings -e.
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Of the many criteria for establishing a genuinely post-positivist research program, the three Cochran sees Deweyan pragmatism as satisfying are: i the ability to appreciate agents' subjective meanings, ii the capacity to produce evaluations of social action that can be generalized beyond a particular situation or event, and iii the potential to accommodate the plural cultural perspectives that inevitably emerge within a global community of social scientists p.
Since pragmatism preserves the better features of science methodological rigor, testability, fallibility, etc. Friedrich Kratchowil , p. The first is an "argument for a pluralism of methods and approaches", which relies on a close reading of the philosophy of science literature. With the rise of a Kuhnian sociology of scientific revolutions as a description of scientific progress, as well as the decline of a Popperian model of theory falsification theory testing resembles the valid deductive operation of modus tollens , the door is opened for researchers to consider a diversity of methods and approaches, especially in addressing anomalies in the dominant paradigm.
Second, "[a] nalytical and methodological eclecticism", Kratchowil insists, should be the norm in a pragmatist research program, combining multiple methods in sometimes opposed research traditions in order to address "the problem at hand" p. Another point is that pragmatism acknowledges that science constitutes a "social practice", an activity whereby practitioners engage in inquiry, dialogue and a search for consensus, not apodictic certainty. Kratchowil concludes the piece by offering a rationale for making "a pragmatic turn" in IR research, particularly its consistency with the "trajectory" of current debates over epistemology in the social sciences, its compatibility with previous constructivist and historical turns and its turn away from theory-motivated research, which proves to be not only too "'scholastic' in nature but also frequently woefully inadequate in its conceptual development" p.
Gould and Onuf. Harry Gould and Nicholas Onuf's essay "Pragmatism, Legal Realism and Constructivism" observes a significant area of overlap between pragmatism and constructivism, specifically in their mutual rejection of formalism and attention to the conditions of experience.
Indeed, the authors claim that "some constructivists are beginning to realize they have been pragmatists all along" p. Gould and Onuf note that most paleo-pragmatists have been skeptical of the value of rules in constructing our knowledge of the social world p. Looking to legal realism, or paleo-pragmatism applied to legal theory, the authors discover two tenets that suggest the source of pragmatists' rule-skepticism: i a functional and context-sensitive distinction between values normative judgments and facts empirical observations and ii an argument that action should always have more evidential weight than speech.
Unfortunately, these tenets bring acting in alignment with facts and speaking with values, thereby privileging the former over the latter. Since the distinction between acting and doing is specious proven by modern advances in speech-act theory, e.
Austin's notion of performative utterances , pragmatists' rule-skepticism is faulty. The upshot is that constructivists can take a pragmatic turn in their research, remaining cognizant that while agents "may not decide on the basis of formally available rules, there are always rules underlying their decisions -- even when they claim no rules are relevant to the situation at hand thus invoking a rule allowing such a claim " p With rule-skepticism out of the way, Gould and Onuf are able to identify three types of rules hegemonic, hierarchical and heteronomous that govern authoritative decisions within world public orders -a model that captures the phenomena better than Harold Lasswell and Myres McDougal's two ideal types minimum and optimum world orders 9.
Patrick Baert's , p. The author. Indeed, the open-textured meaning of pragmatism ushers in opportunities for hybridized forms beyond generic, old or new , particularly hybrids that reflect the insights of hermeneutic philosophy and phenomenology. However, these hybridized versions risk coming into direct conflict with two core commitments of traditional social science: i its representationalism and ii its methodological naturalism.
By seeking to faithfully represent social reality, current research practice what Baert calls the "social cartography model" encounters a difficulty already alluded to by Kratochwil, namely, inquiry merely affirm the theory that motivates the inquirer, rather than tests the theory's validity p. The second commitment of traditional social science research that Baert's hybrid cannot accommodate is methodological naturalism, or the belief that there is a universal method shared by the natural and social sciences.
Given that a covering law model of scientific explanation can operate within both domains, methodological naturalists argue that social science inquiry should imitate inquiry in the natural sciences -a belief widely known as "scientism. Eschewing representationalism and methodological naturalism, Baert's account of pragmatist social research, or neopragmatism joined with the insights of Emmanuel Levinas and Georg Hans Gadamer, resembles a genuine hermeneutic activity, sensitive to alterity Otherness and valuing reflexive understanding as an outcome of inquiry.
Isacoff looks to pragmatism as a resource for guiding developments in IR historical research. He opens with the observation that "most IR research is more interested in models and explanations of why things happened, rather than the equally significant issue of how we know about past events" p. As a way of moving beyond the impasse between positivists and postists or postmodern relativists over whether there is an objectively true narrative of history, Isacoff turns to John Dewey's theory of historical inquiry.