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International relations: theory talks

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Theory Talks is an interactive forum for discussion of debates in International Relations with an emphasis of the underlying theoretical issues. By frequently inviting cutting-edge specialists in the field to elucidate their work and to explain current developments both in IR theory and real-world politics, Theory Talks aims to offer both scholars and students a comprehensive view of the field and its most important protagonists.

On April 15, 2008, Michael W. Doyle started the series with the following interview:

Theory Talk #1: Michael Doyle

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Michael W. Doyle on Markets and Institutions

Theory Talks opens with an interview with leading IR scholar Michael W. Doyle, who has published on issues varying from liberal peace to empires to the foundations for modern day IR theory and is known for its support of liberal democracy and international institutions. Michael Doyle is the Harold Brown Professor of International and Public Affairs, of Law and of Political Science at the Colombia University. Amongst others, Doyle was Assistant secretary-general and special adviser to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan between 2001-2003.

What is, according to you, the biggest challenge in current IR?

I currently focus on the next big issues in International Relations: the legitimate use of force – be it preemptive or preventive – and the legitimacy of global governance of economic, political and social interactions between international actors.

What is your response to this challenge?

Well, to focus on the second issue, I very much think that the legitimacy of international institutions governing social and economic processes should be both broadened and deepened – it is not only desirable but necessary: markets, for example, do not work without institutions. Institutions help to surpass collective action problems of all kinds. But the challenge is to find the right scope these institutions, that is, to find a term that is acceptable to all… MORE

The last article of the series when I opened this entry

Theory Talk #53: Ned Lebow

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ned Lebow on Drivers of War, Cultural Theory, and IR of Foxes and Hedgehogs

Drawing on classical political theories, International Relations is dominated by theories that presuppose interests or fear as dominant drivers for foreign policy.

Richard Ned Lebow looks further back into the history of ideas to conjure up a more varied set of drives that underpin political action. In this Talk, Lebow, among others, elaborates on the underpinnings of political action, discusses how war drives innovations in IR theorizing in the 20th century, and likens himself to a fox, rather than a hedgehog.

What is, according to you, the biggest challenge / principal debate in current IR? What is your position or answer to this challenge / in this debate?

Well, the big challenge in international politics is always how do we keep from destroying one another and that’s the negative question. But it is mirrored by a positive question which is, how do we build community and tolerance and peace? And that’s not exactly the flip side, but that’s always been the big question in IR. And part of that, I think, is how we learn to manage threatening change. Because in my perspective, that’s the driving force of conflict: ultimately, both World Wars can be attributed to modernization and its destabilizing consequences. That is also the reason why it is a falsehood to base theory on that little select slice of history during the World Wars, extrapolate it, and try to think its universal. Yet that is what IR theory does: so many theorists, and so many of the people you recently interviewed, are guilty of doing that. So that’s the big question and certainly, that’s what drove me to study IR in the hope that I could make some small contribution to figuring out some of the answers or partial answers to these questions. (MORE)

Print version of this Talk (pdf)

Theory talks previous entries

Theory Talk #2: Martin Shaw – War & World State

Theory Talk #3: Alexander Wendt – Social Constructivism & UFO’s

Theory Talk #4: John Agnew – Power & Geopolitics

Theory Talk #5: Timothy Sinclair – Social Forces & Transnational Corporations

Theory Talk #6: Klaus Dodds – Visual Geopolitics & South Pole

Theory Talk #7: Joseph Nye – Soft Power & The US

Theory Talk #8: Arend Lijphart – Democracy & Power Sharing

Theory Talk #9: Robert Keohane – Institutions & Innovation

Theory Talk #10: Timothy Shaw – BRICs & Global South

Theory Talk #11: Peter Haas – Environment & Governance

Theory Talk #12: Robert Jervis – Realism & Bush Administration

Theory Talk #13: Immanuel Wallerstein – World-System & Capitalism

Theory Talk #14: Geoffrey Underhill – State-Market Condominium & Adam Smith

Theory Talk #15: Peter Katzenstein – Anti-Americanism & Analytical Eclecticism

Theory Talk #16: Robert Hayden – Constitutional Anthropology & Balkans

Theory Talk #17: Jerry Cohen – Currency Wars & Systemic Change

Theory Talk #18: James Fearon – Ethnicity & Security Council

Theory Talk #19: Fredrik Söderbaum – NRA & Africa

Theory Talk #20: David Harvey – Marxism & Urbanization

Theory Talk #21: Stephen Krasner – Sovereignty & Failed States

Theory Talk #22: Kevin Dunn – Identity & Africa

Theory Talk #23: Kees van der Pijl – Empires & Left-Wing

Theory Talk #24: Robert Bates – Coffee & Small-N

Theory Talk #25: Antonio Marquina – Energy & Security

Theory Talk #26: Jennifer Mitzen – Ontological Security & Addictive Wars

Theory Talk #27: Christian Reus-Smit – Re-thinking IR & Cultures

Theory Talk #28: Marysia Zalewski – Gender & War

Theory Talk #29: Peter Singer – Private Soldiers & Robots

Theory Talk #30: Mary Kaldor – Old & New Wars

Theory Talk #31: Bruce Bueno de Mesquita – Game Theory & Fear

Theory Talk #32: Miriam Elman – Lakatos & Progress

Theory Talk #33: Stephen Walt – Israel Lobby & Obama

Theory Talk #34: James Ferguson – Foucault & Lesotho

Theory Talk #35: Barry Buzan – Security & International Society

Theory Talk #36: Michael Shapiro – Pictures & Political Philosophy

Theory Talk #37: Robert Cox – World Order & Historical Change

Theory Talk #38: James Scott – Agriculture & Resistance

Theory Talk #39: Abrahamsen & Williams – Private Security & Global Assemblages

Theory Talk #40: Kenneth Waltz – Economic Theory & International Politics

Theory Talk #41: Mark Duffield – Liberal aid & Fortified Compounds

Theory Talk #42: Amitav Acharya – ASEAN & Bhagavad Gita

Theory Talk #43: Saskia Sassen – Sociology & Global Cities

Theory Talk #44: Patrick Jackson – IR & Philosophy of Science

Theory Talk #45: Qin Yaqing – Chinese IR & International Balance

Theory Talk #46: David Lake – International Hierarchy & Open Economy Politics

Theory Talk #47: Jean-François Bayart – Historicity & State Formation

Theory Talk #48: Cynthia Enloe – Militarization & Bananas

Theory Talk #49: John Mearsheimer – Structural Realism & Disciplining the US

Theory Talk #50: Beate Jahn – Classical Theory & the State of Nature

Theory Talk #51: Yan Xuetong – China & Harmony

Theory Talk #52: Iver Neumann – Practices & Diplomacy

Theory Talks is an ISN Partner Theory Talks is an initiative by Peer Schouten and is registered as ISSN 2001-4732 | 2008-2012

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