Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Methodology

Asking the Wrong Questions

Recently, I’ve been struck by how seemingly unconcerned social scientists, theorists, and philosophers often are with the practical relevancy of their own work, with its capacity to benefit actual people. It seems unremarkable that, in the face of this disinterest in the problems of real people, the general public would come to hold a contemptuous view of ivy tower intellectuals, one that likely only serves to further predispose intellectuals to ignore their problems. So today I’d like to posit a reciprocity view of what academics ought to be doing and discuss the various ways in which we are presently failing to uphold our end.

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“Silences and Exclusions”: How we Waste our Time with Little Things

If there’s one thing that international relations theorists love to do, it’s criticise each other’s theories. Unfortunately, in the course of that noble goal, the distinction between “important” and “unimportant” criticisms is often lost, and sometimes even deliberately disregarded. It is forgotten that our theories are models, that they cannot possibly be all-inclusive without their logical lessons being lost in the chaos, without losing their subject specificity. Consider this example–many theorists have made a name for themselves criticising a dominant theory in international relations, the neorealism of Kenneth Waltz.  Today I’d like to discuss Waltz’ theory and some of its criticisms, and question how helpful or effective those criticisms really are.

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