International Relations Theory

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By kidtwist
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Contemporary international relations is a complex field. Understanding events and attempting to make sense of them can be a daunting task. There are, however, tools available, which can assist in providing clarity to these complex issues. The first of these tools is historic knowledge. Without historic background of an issue, it is nearly impossible to understand the events driving that issue in modern times. A second tool, the one which will be the focus of this paper, is international relations theory. Theory can be defined as “a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action,” (Merriam-Webster) and can be used “in many cases as a basis of prediction.” (Mingst 56) There are three major theories which we can use to analyze events: liberalism, realism, and constructivism. These theories provide us with different points of view from which to analyze issues in today’s world. By looking at events, both past and present, in the context of a given theory, we can begin to understand those events and the driving forces behind them, as well as to make predictions about future events.
The first of these theories, liberalism, is based upon the belief that man is innately good and that social conditions can be improved, paving the way for progress. Liberalism has its roots in “Enlightenment optimism, nineteenth-century political and economic liberalism, and twentieth-century Wilsonian idealism.” (Mingst 60) Liberalism sees man as rational, and through rationalism, society flourishes. Liberalism views the state not as an individual on the international stage, but as a member of a larger international community. Liberalism argues that war is not a part of human nature, and that it is brought on by the corruption of institutions. As such, liberalism posits that war can be avoided through reformation of the corrupt institutions, and through…...

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