Theoretical Aspects of International Relations

Theoretical Aspects of International Relations

Theoretical Aspects of International Relations

Theoretical Aspects of International Relations

Excerpt

One striking characteristic of the subject of international relations as a field of academic study is the lack of an agreed framework for theoretical inquiry. The title of this symposium volume of essays, Theoretical Aspects of International Relations, was chosen advisedly. It does not imply the existence of some central body of integrated international relations theory; yet it is perfectly compatible with a belief shared by all the contributors. International relations has to be viewed as a subject which is something more than contemporary history if it is to evolve as a legitimate academic specialty or is to yield results relevant to the major choices which governments and opinion leaders must make in world politics.

Dean Rusk and Kenneth W. Thompson of the Rockefeller Foundation invited a small group to meet in Washington in 1954 to discuss with them the prospects for developing theoretical investigations in the field of international relations. It included professors, practitioners, and publicists with a particular concern for international affairs.

It shortly transpired that the participants were talking about several different kinds of theories. Each of the three, or possibly four, kinds of theory -- "normative,""empirical and/or scientific"and "rational"-- is exemplified in the essays which follow. Whatever labels were used, there seemed to be agreement as to the need both for clarification of norms and for ordering of events. Thus, the value . . .

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