Books / Digital Text

III. Policy

13. Prospects for Interdisciplinary Engagement with International Relations by J. Patrick Rhamey, Jr.

Throughout* his career, Dr. Salerno has sought to expand the influence of Misesian scholarship, not only through his own research, but also classroom engagement, graduate student mentorship, and the education of the general public. His impressive body of work represents a true educator whose interest is fundamentally the advancement of human knowledge. It is in this spirit that this chapter seeks to provide an initial blueprint for the interdisciplinary expansion of Austrian principles to the political science realm, specifically the subfield of international relations theory. While international relations theory has strong shared origins in classical liberal approaches (Van de Haar 2009), recent theoretical evolution across the dominant paradigms has increased the potential for an expansion of Austrian ideas. Many theories within the subfield of international relations have begun to experience something of an “individualist shift” both methodologically and theoretically.1 For these reasons, if approached correctly, international relations research is a field ripe for future interdisciplinary engagement.

Notably, there does not exist an absence of political science research by Austrians, though these contributions remain beyond mainstream political science discourse. Perhaps the best examples are Murray Rothbard’s Power and Market and the concluding chapter of Man, Economy, and State which explicitly engage the effects of coercion, or politics, on human behavior.2 The foundation of the argument focuses primarily on the voluntary interactions of individuals in the absence of violence (economics), and yet concludes by engaging the reality that coercion (politics) is nearly always and everywhere present and “economic analysis must be extended to the nature and consequences of violent actions and interrelations in society” (Rothbard [1962] 2004, p. 875). In essence, the fields of economics and political science are highly complementary if not inherently intertwined. Unfortunately this early clear intersection of the two fields of inquiry did not occur more broadly, as political science, the younger of the two, developed from a combination of European legal and historical approaches (Carr 1939; Morgenthau 1948) and early American behavioralist research (Merriam 1924; Key 1934; Key 1966).3 However, unlike economics where certain biases may exist, Austrian ideas surrounding political organization, coercion, and the state are somewhat accepted. For example, James C. Scott’s The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia and Charles Tilly’s “War Making and State Making as Organized Crime” share many commonalities with Rothbardian analysis of the state and are standard reading in undergraduate comparative politics courses.

This chapter proceeds by outlining the evolution of international relations theory over the past two decades with specific attention to the progression of theoretical development toward a greater focus on human action. While most research is heavily positivist in its construction, theoretical development over the course of the past two decades has led, steadily, away from the abstractions of traditional neorealist (Waltz 1979) and liberal institutionalist (Keohane and Martin 1995) paradigms that have dominated international relations research. New theoretical approaches that offer greater recognition to human agency, as well as new methodological challenges in qualitative research, provide an opportunity for Austrian engagement. Following a discussion of these theoretical approaches, I conclude with suggested strategies for continued expansion of Austrian ideas to the social sciences outside economics.

The Current State of the International Relations Literature

I first introduce through a simple illustration the relative position of the dominant international relations theoretical perspectives in the context of two fundamental criteria in Figure 1. The theories are organized according to their assumptions concerning the effect of anarchy on preferences, and thereby behaviors (y-axis), and the assumed level of analysis determining the type of actor under study (x-axis). Organizing each perspective by their nuanced conceptualizations on these two particular subjects provides an effective means of discussing their unique attributes within the context of their overarching similarities. (See Figure 1 on the following page.4)

Notably, either abstraction presents potential problems for future Austrian interdisciplinary analysis. In particular, the level and corresponding relevant unit of analysis being anything beyond the individual is an inherently hostile assumption, as praxeological analysis recognizes accurately that only individuals are capable of action. For example, neorealists may assume for theoretical purposes that all states are rational unitary actors, but such an assumption is ineffective in generating common sense explanations of real world phenomena, given “there are no such things as ends of or actions by “groups,” “collectives,” or “states,” which do not take place as actions by various specific individuals (Rothbard [1962] 2004, p. 2). However, in the theoretical space that minimizes such abstractions, specifically the liberal and neoclassical realist conceptual spaces, the possibility for the development of an interdisciplinary Austrian discourse is quite plausible. Driving this evolution toward the individual over the past two decades of international relations research is in part the desire of applied research to understand real world outcomes, leading to what J. David Singer (1961) termed “vertical drift” wherein theories built on such abstractions as “state behavior” become applied to explaining foreign policy choices by individuals.

For much of international relations, anarchy defines contextual constraints, where expected behavior follows from the strength of the anarchy assumption (Powell 1994). Implied for many authors, particularly in the realist tradition, is that given anarchy and human depravity, conflict will ensue. Even neoliberal institutionalists acknowledge the anarchy assumption of neorealism, resigning themselves to searching for those conditions in which “cooperation under anarchy” is a possibility (Axelrod and Keohane 1985). If anarchy is as salient a political problem as neorealists suggest, then actors seek nothing more than power, as apart from coercive government their security is impossible to guarantee (hence Waltz’s characterization of the system as “self-help”). However, if anarchy is merely an environmental condition suggesting the absence of a single coercive entity, rather than being a constraint that determines behavior, then gains are not inherently zero-sum and cooperation is not only possible, but likely the dominant strategy within the anarchic context.5

On the right side of the horizontal axis are the predominantly system-focused explanations of international politics, depicting states as unitary actors. In this context, simplistically, the relationship of anarchy is perceived as either an aspect of the environment (English school) or the prime determinant of state preferences (Neorealism). On the left hand side of the graph reside those theories of international politics which focus on a sub-state unit of analysis, each providing an explanation of state behavior as a determinant of either group or individual action. The “Effect of Anarchy” in this context is parallel to the underlying discussion of the “state of nature” in much of political philosophy.6 Toward the top of the y-axis, anarchy has a powerful effect on human behavior, wherein man cares only for his self-preservation resulting in a Hobbesian existence that can only be described as “nasty, brutish, and short.” Alternatively, toward the bottom of the vertical axis, the state of nature, or anarchy, does not imply chaos. Intrinsic to anarchy in this Lockean conception is the principle of natural law endowed to the individual, wherein everyone is entitled to “life, liberty, and property.” In this context, human nature is not so negatively viewed, as individuals are capable of organizing themselves. Government, thereby, is either only necessary to protect person and property against those occasional individuals who seek to violate the principles of natural law, or alternatively is entirely unnecessary if individuals are capable of interaction absent a monopolizing coercive force (Rothbard 2002a). The vertical axis across both levels of analysis can also be described as the degree to which cooperation is possible in the absence of a centralized government in international politics.

Given the existing landscape of international relations theory, Moravcsik’s (1997) conception of liberalism, designated simply as “liberalism” in the illustration, provides the clearest potential avenue for the application of Austrian ideas. Recognizing the failures of systemic, state focused neorealism to account for domestic sources of state behavior (notably the collapse of the Soviet Union), Moravcsik (1997) presents a reframed variant of liberalism in international relations to fully account for the dynamics of policy formation. As both economists and political scientists are well aware, the term liberalism has been construed to mean a myriad of things, both within and beyond international relations research. Moravcsik’s articulation of a liberal theory of international relations is an attempt at salvaging liberalism’s “self-inflicted” condition. However, as the author makes clear, he is providing a “restatement” of liberal theory built squarely on classical liberal foundations.7 Liberalism as defined by Moravcsik thereby is explicitly a theory of preference formation, and it is in this particular conceptualization of liberalism that the most fruitful possibilities of interdisciplinary theorizing with Austrian researchers lies.

Moravcsik makes a series of core assumptions emphasizing preference formation and the evolution of interests within domestic society. First, the fundamental actor in international relations is the individual. Decisions are made by individuals acting in response to an environment to satisfy subjective goals determined by subjective sets of values. Already, we have dramatically complicated the study of international relations away from systemic theories. Second, and by extension, the state is a subset of individuals in society reacting to the preferences of individuals in the society at large. Actors in government, like actors in domestic society, have their own sets of values and preferences and exist in a particular institutional context, be it democratic or authoritarian. This environmental constraint shapes the availability and perceived values of the policy options available to state actors, but individuals remain the only entity capable of action. Finally, preferences across potential behaviors, and the resulting causal processes in policy choice, are constrained further by the international environment of interacting individual preferences and material capabilities (or opportunity to achieve some end).

Moravcsik (1997) essentially constructs a “bottom-up” view of international politics, tracing the source of state behaviors to the initial development of preferences by individuals within societies. What individuals within states want “is the primary determinant of what they do,” not the nature of the system as anarchic (Moravcsik 1997, p. 521), opening the door to understanding political phenomenon as they actually happen rather than under a predefined set of unrealistic abstractions. However, to employ liberalism to better understand outcomes we must have some means of logically deducing the source of preferences, of which Moravcsik lists three: ideational, commercial, and republican. The ideational components capture particular political, national, and socioeconomic cleavages and are manifest in normative explanations of the democratic peace (Dixon 1994), ethnicity based explanations of foreign policy behaviors (Davis and Moore 1997), and liberal economic preferences (Mousseau 2003). Commercial incentives are driven by motivations for some subjectively defined economic gain. These may take the form of trade and investment behaviors, but also may manifest themselves through preferences for resource access and even coercive seizure (e.g., Snyder 1991). Finally, republican sources of preferences are rooted in the political institution’s method of filtering the preferences articulated by the domestic populace. Likely the best examples are provided by the institutional democratic peace literature, but more specifically selectorate theory (Bueno de Mesquita et al. 1999). Indeed, selectorate theory, may provide the best illustration of the bottom-up preference formation process presented by liberalism while retaining a focus on individual action.

The implication of this articulation of liberal theory is a complete reformulation of how we conduct international relations research to refocus not on states, but upon the individual within society. Neorealism, restricted to the system level and states as actors, fails to independently account for state preferences, and so a focus on human action is the logical transition. However, a focus on individuals does not eliminate the systemic realm, in so far as the system is defined through the behaviors of other individuals engaging in their own series of actions within and between political systems.8 Furthermore, given the necessity of such a transition toward the individual and human action, there has been something of a convergence in international relations theory. For example, Jack Snyder’s (1991) work on empires, if one was ignorant of his self-identification as a “realist,” is indistinguishable from the theoretical processes outlined by Moravcsik. Specifically, Snyder discusses the logrolling interests of domestic actors, ideational preferences, and political institutional configurations all contributing to the propensity and rate at which empires historically over-expand — an outcome that is impossible to explain under any framework where states are rational unitary actors.

This international relations shift toward liberalism seems intuitively obvious, occurring quite broadly in mid-range topical analysis (see Oneal 2012): individuals have values for ends and employ means to achieve those ends. However, understanding, operationalizing, and incorporating the preferences of actors, determining their relative importance, and then interacting those aggregate preferences with state structures and the preferences of others individuals outside the state is a daunting task, and attempts to do so do not debunk clearly deduced theory as the burden of properly specifying such empirical analysis is exponentially greater than traditional state-level studies. However, with advancements in technology, the ability to conduct econometric tests of liberal ideas are more accessible and plausible, providing a means to mathematically sort out myriad coinciding human behaviors. In particular, the recent availability of multilevel modeling to political scientists is intuitively appropriate for testing liberal hypotheses, which employ indicators from across arenas of political interaction (e.g., actors both within and between states). Indeed, progress for the field entails “an increasing ability to explain and connect complex phenomenon” both theoretically and methodologically (Dryzek 1986, p. 301).

Liberalism in international relations theory is not the only path that has evolved to grant greater attentiveness toward the inherent basis of social science research in human action. Neoclassical realism possesses many of liberalism’s strengths while attempting to maintain many of classical realism’s fundamental Machiavellian assumptions. Like liberalism, neoclassical realism “explicitly incorporates both external and internal variables.” However, “the scope and ambition of a country’s foreign policy are driven first and foremost by its place in the system and specifically by its relative material power capabilities … the impact of such power capabilities on foreign policy is indirect and complex … translated through intervening variables at the unit level” (Rose 1998, p. 146). Though political preferences are influenced by the actor’s position in the power hierarchy relative to all other actors in the system, human action still is the fundamental phenomenon of interest. Indeed, there are close parallels evident in not only the analysis, but also the conclusions, of neoclassical realists and Austrians on the topic of war and empire. For example, both Snyder (1991) and Salerno (1995) engage in similar discussions of the relationship between inflation and imperial expansion, as well as highlighting it as a catalyst of further international conflict and long run unsustainability.9 Another possible example is that of Robert Higgs (1987) “ratchet effect” and the “phoenix factor” discussed by Organski and Kugler (1977). Distinctly, while liberalism is a theory of preferences from the bottom up, neoclassical realism is a theory of preferences from the bottom down. Though liberalism as discussed is perhaps more amenable to Austrian engagement, both approaches, however, attempt to integrate individual behaviors into a general theory of international relations, albeit with different emphases on the relative importance societal influences.

Perhaps neoclassical realism and liberalism constitute different roads leading to the same destination. Both take seriously the need to incorporate greater complexity into our theories to better account for political phenomenon. Encouraging for practitioners of international relations, and the potential for interdisciplinary engagement with the Austrian school, is the drifting of paradigms not further apart, but closer together. These two latest iterations of realism and liberalism are perhaps more theoretically compatible than ever before in the past, constituting, in Lakatosian terms, progress in the field. In conjunction with rising methodological interest in deductive theory development and qualitative analysis (see Goertz 2005), a fruitful cross discipline dialogue incorporating the Austrian school as a next necessary step to this theoretical evolution in international relations is now possible.

Strategies for Future Interdisciplinary Engagement

In order for such a debate to both occur and be fruitful, not only must the theoretical components be compatible and international relations researchers amenable to an Austrian turn, as I argue they now are, but the presentation of the ideas must be done in a thoughtful and effective manner. Just as in the presentation of any argument or position, the negative aspects of the method by which it is presented, or the individual doing the presenting, affect audience receptivity. For this reason, it is necessary for those engaging mainstream IR theory in advocacy of an Austrian perspective to be somewhat strategic, or at least minimally thoughtful, in the method and context of that interaction. While international relations as a field may be ready for interdisciplinary engagement, there are, in my opinion, three broad strategic impediments currently limiting the persuasiveness of the Austrian school to the social sciences (and the general public) that must first be addressed.

Strategy 1: Comprehension Before Engagement

One great pitfall to any interdisciplinary engagement is a failing to fully understand the core theories, methods, and even discipline specific jargon of the field you seek to engage.10 Comprehension is a necessary condition to effective engagement, and in its absence, attempts at an intellectual exchange may be dismissed or misunderstood, harming future discourse. As one example, there is a frequent and unfortunately persistent mischaracterization in Austrian circles of democratic peace theory, often inappropriately conflated with neoconservative foreign policy prescriptions. As but one example, a recent discussion by Hans Hoppe (2013) on the democratic peace grossly mischaracterizes the theory as including the claims “In order to create lasting peace, the entire world must be made democratic” and “war must be waged on those states to convert them to democracy and thus create lasting peace.” Such a claim about democratic peace is a complete invention, as there is not a single piece of democratic peace research in international relations that states either. Indeed, the original conceptualization of the democratic peace in modern political science empirical research was labelled the “libertarian peace” and focused on libertarian normative values (Rummel 1983). Such claims are completely absent in both the normative (Dixon 1994) and institutionalist (Bueno de Mesquita et al. 1999) explanations of the empirical finding, which has been described as “the closest thing we have to an empirical law in the study of international relations” (Levy 1989, p. 88). Indeed, the empirical record even suggests that newly created, unstable democracies are the most violent states in the system (see Mansfield and Snyder 2002). Dr. Hoppe appears to confuse the democratic peace, which originates as a deductive theory about domestic influence on the polity by Immanuel Kant ([1795] 1991, p. 113) and/or the rise of capitalist preferences by Joseph Schumpeter (1950; 1955), with neoconservative foreign policy recommendations (e.g., Kagan 2012) and the idealist policy prescriptions of Woodrow Wilson.11

While the criticism of such neoconservative policies that follows in Hoppe’s analysis is well crafted and would be predominantly shared by most democratic peace theorists, the failure to properly engage the enormous extant literature and demonstrate a basic knowledge of the theory as it currently exists in international relations fosters and supports divisions between the two social science fields rather than providing interesting political science insights from an Austrian perspective. Research in coercive hierarchical power relationships and the dissemination of democracy (Organski 1968; Rasler and Thompson 1994), the causal development of clear individual preferences within democratic (and non-democratic) institutional frameworks (Mousseau 2003; Peceny and Butler 2004; Gartzke 2007), and the relationship of foreign policy behaviors to institutional coercive strength (Rhamey 2012) all go ignored through this failing to engage international relations scholarship. Such a dialogue between these systemic and liberal approaches with Austrian scholarship has enormous potential for better understanding human action in the political context.12

Strategy 2: Engage and Incorporate Mathematics

If a priori science is a valuable approach, and we cannot knowingly observe the underlying motivations of actors, then generalizable and observable patterns of behavior should no doubt be present throughout a cadre of relevant historical events. While exploration of a single event may require a potentially dangerous divination of motivation in order to sensibly explain an historical episode, as well as any relevance to praxeological theories, econometric large-N analysis possesses the virtue of mathematically organizing possible relationships between events to uncover generally present correlations. A relationship between observable phenomena that are generalizably present in coincidence with an outcome of interest should correspond with any reasonably developed praxeologically deduced theorem, and certain types of statistical analysis may heavily complement Austrian research.13 While the idiosyncrasies of a single case may make for difficult historical illustration, laws of human behavior capable of explaining real world occurrences, in a Mengerian sense, should be observably evident in a statistically significant fashion across a relevant population in a properly specified model.14 While the failure to demonstrate expected empirical relationships that can be deduced from a praxeological approach does not, by definition, disprove the theory, it can serve the quite important purpose of highlighting deficiencies or logical fallacies within a deduced theorem. Theories are not apodictically true simply by labeling themselves a priorist, and a failing to observe generally present historical relationships that should coincide with the theory in a properly constructed econometric model is potentially an indication of a failing in the theory’s initial deductive logic. Furthermore, formal modeling, such as that often employed in applications of selectorate theory (see Bueno de Mesquita et al. 2008), can be a helpful means of organizing information regarding causal processes arrived at through clearly deduced theories.

Austrians often criticize econometric analysis as promulgating poorly developed or even illogical theories through the manipulation of algorithms to provide corroborating mathematical relationships. However, such a cautionary note surrounding statistical analysis is made by any serious approach to the social sciences, even in the most positivist corners, and an emphasis on theory prior to econometric testing is taught in every mainstream graduate research design course.15 This attack on econometrics, then, is something of a straw man caricature of econometric research as such inductive, hyper-positivist work is not the standard in mainstream social science. Instead, the hostility toward mathematics is more likely an indication of mathematical ignorance of underlying statistical algorithms, a confusion regarding statistical claims surrounding causality, or simply an attempt to promulgate a bad, illogical theory when confronted with a lack of, or even contradictory, empirical evidence. While properly developed social science theory is not dependent on empirical “proof,” an absence of such is typically a sound indication that something in the theory’s logic has gone awry. This is not to suggest that historical method of careful logical argumentation on a case by case basis is without merit (e.g., Rothbard 2002b). However, such qualitative approaches, while interesting, may not provide the most effective social science illustrations regarding generalizable theories. Econometric knowledge is neither the foundation nor the end goal of social science research, but if done well, it is an important tool in the arsenal of the social scientist and should be embraced.

Strategy 3: Focus on Academic Engagement

The ideas of the Austrian school have the potential to contribute greatly to the social sciences, but perceptions of those ideas, and thereby their dissemination, may be marred, however unfairly, by an unclear union between the intellectual development of theory building and libertarian political activism. As such, scholars should promote a clear distinction between Austrian research and political activism, not allowing scholarly work to be shrouded by irrelevant, and sometimes counterproductive or contradictory, agendas. This strategic concern is particularly applicable to interdisciplinary expansion to political science and international relations, fields already highly sensitive to the politicizing of social science research. In these fields, new research programs viewed as pandering to particular ideological perspectives or political groups, regardless of whether they are left, right, or libertarian, are likely to be quickly dismissed. For this reason, the community of Austrian scholars should promote a clear distinction between Austrian research and political activism.

In part due to the efforts of scholars such as Dr. Salerno, the Austrian school has grown in prominence and exposure by leaps and bounds in the academic community, both within economics and beyond. However, the growth of the Austrian school as a heterodox approach may also tend to attract elements that seek to exploit rising interest for personal profit, or those attracted to the community not necessarily by its ideas, but its distinctiveness from the existing status quo. Such groups may include racists, fear-mongers, or simply those advocating apophenic views contradictory to empirical reality. Clearly, as an intellectual enterprise that not only values the development of thoughtful theoretical and empirical research, but also one with a deep dedication to principles of human liberty, the scholarly community must act to quickly condemn any such groups that may attempt to associate themselves with the Austrian school for no other reason than its rising popularity. Organizations or individuals whose mission is contrary to that of advancing sound social scientific thought and human liberty central to the Austrian school should be immediately and quickly dismissed. Obviously most Austrian scholars are quick to condemn these types of groups or individuals, but a more active, vocal, and immediate stance is necessary within the scholarly community in opposition to such detrimental associations to prevent negative perceptions by broader academe and to preserve the school’s intellectual integrity. In addition to being clearly opposed to principles of human liberty and Austrian thought, such negative associations would also be highly detrimental to the advancement of interdisciplinary opportunities across the social sciences.

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  • *. J. Patrick Rhamey is assistant professor in the Department of International Studies and Political Science at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. I was a summer fellow in 2007 and 2008. During these experiences, under the advice and support of Dr. Salerno, I developed a passion for the field of international conflict. Furthermore, Dr. Salerno instilled in me the importance of thinking strategically regarding interdisciplinary theorizing and the importance of interdisciplinary work to the future of the social sciences.
  • 1. This trend originates in the renewed emphasis on domestic politics as a source of foreign policy behavior and extends to recent research examining the underlying causes of individual decision-making (Putnam 1988) and the relationship between the preferences of individual decision-makers and foreign policy selection (Bueno de Mesquita 1999).
  • 2. Indeed, the clarity of analysis from one volume to the other highlights the artificial and unnecessary division of the two works by the initial publisher.
  • 3. While some influence from economics is present in contemporary political science research, it is primarily of the positivist variant, to which there has been a significant backlash in the form of “post-positivist” theoreticians (e.g., Peterson 2004; Tickner 2005).
  • 4. Immediately the reader will notice the placement of constructivism. While I do not discuss constructivism at length in this chapter, constructivism is unique given its assumption of an endogenous relationship between levels of analysis. As examples, the key systemic features which frame state’s conceptions of world politics such as state sovereignty (Treaty of Westphalia) and anarchy are not universal truths, but social constructions by the states themselves (Wendt 1992, 1995). It is this endogenous relationship between society, state, and system the graphical portrayal is intended to illustrate.
  • 5. This distinction between anarchy as a defining characteristic that causes states to behave a certain way, as is the assumption by neorealists, versus anarchy as merely a systemic condition that describes the absence of a single coercive entity, as is the assumption by liberal researchers in international relations, has dramatic consequences for expectations of state behavior. Flowing from the neorealist assumption that anarchy causes behaviors are the assumptions that all states pursue self-help strategies, all gains are relative and mutually exclusive, and thereby this systemic condition leads inevitably to conflict. However, if anarchy is merely a descriptive characterization of the international system as the absence of government, which through liberal logic may be a systemic condition that expands possible behaviors rather than constrains as realists would claim, it cannot be assumed anarchy inherently leads to competition over relative gains and conflict. The “strength” of the anarchy assumption in international relations theory is thereby the degree to which the condition of anarchy forces states to behave in a specific manner.
  • 6. It is worth noting that the conceptions of “anarchy” in international relations theory are not entirely identical in classical realism and neorealism (or lower horizontal pairings) as the graph may suggest, as Morgenthau did not share Waltz’s view that the international system is inherently conflictual due to the effect of anarchy (see Morgenthau 1948, pp. 39–40). However, Morgenthau does share the Hobbesian view of human nature which is an abstraction based upon the Hobbesian view of the state of nature, or anarchy. Morgenthau’s conception of human nature, the basis for his description of statesmen and justification for the primacy of the state, exists as an extension of the idea of man’s nature under conditions of anarchy, even if he does not agree anarchy exists in the reality of international politics. Perhaps a more appropriate title for the y-axis would be “conception of human nature” ranging from good to bad. However, I expect in that case a footnote would be necessary explaining the nuances of the systemic level. The point here, however, is simple: philosophically the effects of anarchy on behaviors and human nature are directly related.
  • 7. Notably this restatement is not neoliberal institutionalism, which unfortunately dominated the term liberalism until very recently. In terms of assumptions, neoliberal institutionalism shares the entirety of the neorealist core (including the states as rational actors abstraction) while moderately relaxing the implications of anarchy on state preferences. Given this relation, Keohane’s (1993) statement that neoliberal institutionalism “borrows as much from realism as from liberalism” is disingenuous. Institutionalism borrows entirely from realism, while only moderately co-opting liberalism’s focus on the human progressivity (Zacher and Matthews 1995). To use the example of cooperation, it occurs despite systemic conditions of anarchy because actors determine that by doing so they can improve their condition (e.g., Axelrod and Keohane 1985). The core assumptions regarding states as rational unitary actors and the system organization as anarchic are identical. Neoliberal institutionalism appears to remain ambivalent to the historical emphasis of classical liberalism on the individual and the promotion of human freedom, leaving preferences as exogenously determined. I’ll refrain from delving further into the nuances of neoliberal institutionalism and neorealism, as the neo-neo debate has been thoroughly explored elsewhere (Jervis 2003; Baldwin 1993; Powell 1994).
  • 8. See the conceptual discussion of interactions in Bueno de Mesquita et al. (1999).
  • 9. Snyder’s Myths of Empire is both an excellent example of neoclassical realism and source of many parallels with existing Austrian perspectives, including coalition behavior in democracies leading to warlike behaviors, the pervasiveness of certain “myths” of external threat exploited by politicians to justify conflicts, and the inevitable destructive consequences of imperial overexpansion.
  • 10. Perhaps the best example is the term “institution” which possesses numerous definitions dependent upon the field and context within which it is used.
  • 11. Notably, Kagan and many neocons operate out of the field of history. There are no significant neoconservative international relations scholars, due both to the absence of any clear logic behind such an approach as well as a dearth of empirical evidence for such policies’ effectiveness. Wilsonian idealism, likewise, is generally absent in contemporary research, and the term exists in the present typically as a pejorative used by neorealists in describing liberal theorists (e.g., Mearsheimer 1995).
  • 12. For an introduction to the democratic peace in international relations, see Russett et al. (1995).
  • 13. Importantly, there is an intuitively plausible potential relationship between the praxeological approach and Bayesian empirical analysis that requires additional future attention by social scientists. Bayesian analysis recognizes the inherent uncertainty underlying observable events, obvious when observing real world phenomenon, as we cannot understand the complexity of motivations inherent in individual decision-making. However, rather than the explicitly inductive process of Bayesian updating, conceivably our priors may be updated instead by the deductive expression of a praxeologically based theory, permitting a more effective and appropriate large-N test. In other words, the logical posterior for an Austrian Bayesian model is the deductively generated theoretical information where probabilistic analysis is conditional on common sense claims.
  • 14. “Properly specified model” is simply one that accurately manages the nature of the data (e.g clustering, time series, hierarchical data structure) while also organizing the data to logically fit deduced theoretical priors. Generally, the problem in social sciences is not the models, but poor application and interpretation.
  • 15. Such criticisms are present in the most frequently used texts for such courses in political science and sociology doctoral programs, such as those by Shively (1974), King et al. (1994), Goertz (2005), and Ragin (2008).
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