Producing Possibility: A Naturalist Understanding of International Relations Theory

Dissertation, University of Minnesota (1998)

Rhona Leibel
Metropolitan State University
This project demonstrates that prudent use of work heterodox to accepted practices is necessary for the international relations scholarly community to meet its epistemic goals. ;Using Philip Kitcher's naturalist epistemology, I argue that a commitment to rigor requires that international relations scholars rethink their evaluative practices. To reach their goals, they must evaluate heterodox suggestions under the guidance of more comprehensive categories, not in terms of standard visions of empirical support. I suggest thinking in terms of plausibility arguments for possibility spaces. ;The argument: At present, the community's understanding of what can count as a justified knowledge claim is constituted so that substantive realist assumptions set the limits of rigorous research. Methodological rigor has come to have a particular substantive face. And discussion of crucial heterodox alternatives, ranging from idealism through constructivism to more radical post-modern work are foreclosed a priori. ;Yet it may be just those works on the periphery that provide significant promise in understanding and helping optimally to restructure the global polity. ;Therefore, I introduce an alternative metatheory that expands the domain of legitimate candidate knowledge claims in a way that better meets the community's own goals, yet is consistent with rigorous research into metatheory currently being done in philosophy of the physical sciences. It is under the guidance of this metatheory that promising heterodox suggestions can be evaluated, and the goals of the international relations scientific community can optimally be met. ;As an example, I consider Woodrow Wilson's theoretical work. Using the metatheoretical template I suggest, a mapping of possibility spaces emerges, where political community is defined by common, not merely convergent, interest. And a schema of social and political institutions is proposed as a way of creating new selves that can both maintain such a community of power, and move the current system into that space. ;This mapping is supported, not work that fits into the community's understanding of empirical justification, but rather by plausibility arguments that exemplify a different justification, but rather by plausability arguments that exemplify a different logic. As a beginning to me project of historic retrieval, I lay out this mapping and the plausibility arguments that support it
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,714
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views

Recent downloads (6 months)

How can I increase my downloads?


Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes