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Politics and International Relations (PIR): Events


Human Beings in International Relations: Rethinking the Psychological Foundations of IR Theory

Human Beings in International Relations: Rethinking the Psychological Foundations of IR Theory
Speaker: Annette Freyberg-Inan # Visiting Fellow, IASH
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Date and Time
3rd Jun 2015 15:00 - 3rd Jun 2015 16:30
6th Floor Common Room CMB

Ever since Kenneth Waltz managed to convince a great many scholars of International Relations (IR) that thinking about “the human” is reductionist (a bad word) and altogether too messy, it has become unsexy to admit what we all in fact know to be true: The way we think about human beings, what drives them, what makes them tick, and what sets them off in which ways, strongly shapes the way we think about ir, which are after all (for the most part) made by humans. Somewhat later, a second major trend attacked human nature foundations from an opposite direction: The poststructuralist overshoots of the constructivist turn taught us that it is both anachronistic and dangerous to essentialize and generalizeideas about the human. Doing both, however, remains logically required to build the human into our theories. As a result of both trends, the human has slipped ever more deeply into our theoretical (non-)foundations. After doing work in the previous years on digging him and her back up and showing how ideas about the human function across the spectrum of IR theory, Annette Freyberg-Inan’s new project, on which this talk focuses, is to look at things the other way around by asking: What can other fields, which focus on explaining human social behavior, teach us, which we can usefully harness for theorizing about ir? Related questions that need to be answered in the process are: How can IR theory that explicitly takes on board the human balance the requirements of parsimony, generality, specificity, and predictive power? And what can be its ontological and epistemological footing to make it useful as both positive and critical theory?

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