This major Handbook brings together the worlds leading scholars of international relations to provide a state of the art review and indispensable guide to the field. A genuinely international undertaking, the Handbook reviews the many historical, philosophical, analytical and normative roots to the discipline and the key contemporary topics of research and debate today. An essential benchmark publication for all advanced undergraduates, graduate students and academics in politics and international relations.
Chapter 3: Rationalism v. Constructivism: A Skeptical View
In the introduction to the fiftieth anniversary issue of International Organization, Peter Katzenstein, Robert Keohane and Stephen Krasner (1998) suggest that the main axis of debate in the field of international relations (IR) in the coming years is likely to be rationalism versus constructivism.1 In at least one important respect, this would be a remarkable development. For whatever they are, rationalism and constructivism are not in the first instances theories of international politics. Rather, rationalism seems to refer to a methodological approach that may imply a philosophical position on what social explanation is and how it ought to work, the nature of which is debated. And constructivism seems to refer to a set of ...