conditions leading to the initiation, escalation, diffusion,
and termination of war. A search to approach sufficiency
is afoot in different directions.
Can we say that there is progress in the study of
war and peace? The answer is a tentative yes. As part
of this exercise, I randomly read articles on international
war in leading journals, starting with the end of World
21 In journals from the 1940s and 1950s, I
found much precise description but only limited attempts
to go beyond the case under scrutiny. It is not surprising
that few academics refer to that work today. In the 1960s and 1970s, journal articles remain largely
descriptive, but a change is noticeable.
empirical results seldom supported widely held
propositions. Instead, they legitimized radically different
theories from the accepted norm. In the 1980s and 1990s
the development of alternative perspectives on the causes
of war exploded. The legacy of the last two decades
shows a growing commitment to theoretical specification
and an increasing link to empirical evaluations. The
study of war and peace is poised at the verge of
generating a consistent paradigm that may guide work in
the next decade.
It is my belief that the next generation of
scholars will be far more dependent on their own cohorts
than on their ancient ancestors. The massive
improvements in specification and extensive empirical
developments permit rejection of some plausible
propositions, while others are preserved because they
survive initial tests. As we move into the future, and
larger, well-documented data sets become increasingly
available to students of politics, one expects that current
work will be dramatically revised and superseded.
Improvements in formal structures and statistical
developments that have started to appear in the last
decade will undoubtedly expand and integrate larger
sections of the field. This generation can take credit for
being the first to face the scientific challenge and explore,
admittedly very incompletely, the propositions generated
by generations of students of war and peace. The next
generation faces the urgent challenge of controlling war
that now can escalate to unthinkable levels. That task is
challenging and urgent.
*With special thanks to James Caporaso, James Morrow, Gretchen Hower, Randolph Siverson, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Frank
Zagare, Claudio Cioffi-Revilla, John Vasquez and Suzanne Werner for
their insightful suggestions and to Douglas Lemke and Doris Fuchs,
who labored long and hard improving and editing the manuscript and
putting together the bibliography. David Hopson and Joel Smith were
instrumental in constructing graphics. Sandra Seymour is responsible
for the final typing.
1. I use this particular definition of war as a means to
narrow my subject area and not because it has more validity than other
definitions of war. A most comprehensive, all-inclusive definition is
provided bby Cioffi-Revilla ( 1991b), who wishes to catalog all possible
conflicts. "War is an occurrence of purpose, collective violence among
two or more social groups pursuing conflicting political goals that result
in fatalities, with at least one belligerent group being organized under
the command of authoritative leadership." 2. Thomas Kuhn ( 1970) proposed the notion of a paradigm
but conceded that it has been used in various ways. In later work he
argues that a paradigm "...stands for the entire constellation of beliefs,
values, techniques, and so on shared by the members of a given
community. On the other, it denotes one sort of element in that
constellation, the concrete puzzle-solutions which, employed as models
or examples, can replace explicit rules as a basis for the solution of the
remaining puzzles of normal science" ( Kuhn 1970, 175) Here I employ
paradigm in the first sense defined by Kuhn. For an enlightening
discussion with world politics applications see Vasquez ( 1983, 1-12). 5.
The more advanced the field, the stronger is the
consensus on rules of falsification. Note that Stephen Hawking, despite
the enormous complexity of his ideas on time and space, accepts with
little discussion Lakatos' criteria and through their application is able to
reject complex theoretical alternatives ( Stephen W. Hawking, 1988. A
Brief History of Time. Bantam, 9-13 and 47-49).
In no area is the difficulty of establishing a paradigm
more apparent than in the study of human evolution. Paleontologists
organized their discipline around Darwin's insight that the current
expressions of a species, despite differences in size and appearance,
evolved from a common extinct ancestor that was less adapted to
survival than those still among us. Darwin's notions were and still are
in sharp contrast to the theory of human creation held by the Western
church. The debate on the evidence is being fought to this day. For
example, "scientific" creationists challenge bone dating techniques and
attempt to show that species were concurrently created. The modern
study of genetics, however, has independently confirmed the validity of
species transformation, lending further credence to Darwin's insight.
7. The difference between "hegemon," that is omnipotent
over all its allies and foes and "dominant," which is simply the largest
among the major powers is important. A dominant power is large,
indeed the largest among large, but it is not large enough to impose its
preferences on the whole coalition or the rest of the world. Thus, a
dominant nation at the top of a hierarchy needs allies to preserve a
regime. A "hegemon" is autarchic, requiring no allies to exercise
influence over the regime or the world. Empirically, dominance is
frequent but hegemony is very rare in the international system,
appearing for less than 20 years over the last 200, and usually after
devastating wars ( Keohane 1984; Strange 1985; Russett 1985; Kugler
Organski 1989). 8. Recent extensive work on Japan and the elaborate
evaluation of the interactions among European nations during World
War I suggest that this avenue is promising ( Choucri and
This is a critical difference between power transition and
hegemonic theory. Power transition contends that a dominant nation is
the largest among major powers but not preponderant over all.
Hegemonic theory, on the other hand, suggests that stability is
maintained only when the largest power is preponderant, a condition not
found in the international system in the last 200 years, with the
exception of the brief interlude after World War II when the United
States was preponderant mainly because the competition was exhausted
by war. This unfortunate specification has detracted from the central
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Political Science:The State of the Discipline II.
Contributors: Ada W. Finifter - Author.
Publisher: American Political Science Association.
Place of publication: Washington, DC.
Publication year: 1993.
Page number: 504.
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