The Realist Dilemma: Politics and the Limits of Theory

Daniel J. Levine

in Recovering International Relations

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199916061
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980246 | DOI:
The Realist Dilemma: Politics and the Limits of Theory

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From conceptual discussions of reification to historical case studies: the next three chapters explore how different communities of IR theorists have understood the challenge of sustainable critique, and tried to meet it. Is there a coherent pattern to their failures and successes? In particular, Chapter 3 focuses on the realist tradition: from Morgenthau and Waltz to the ‘neoclassical,’ ‘constructivist’ and ‘critical’ developments of the past decade. Why, despite a distinctly reflective ethos, did Hans Morgenthau fail to develop a body of theory that could resist reification? Why did Waltz’s critics fail to appreciate those moves toward reflexivity that existed in structuralism, and why did those moves themselves prove insufficient? How do those failures continue to affect contemporary realist research, from Randall Schweller to Richard Ned Lebow and Michael C. Williams?

Keywords: Arendt, Hannah; classical realism; constructivism (IR); critical realism (IR); Lebow, Richard Ned; Morgenthau, Hans J; structuralism; neo-classical realism; neo-realism; Schweller, Randall; Waltz, Kenneth N; Wendt, Alexander; Williams, Michael C

Chapter.  15392 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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