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International Relations TheoriesDiscipline and Diversity

International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity (5th edn)

Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki, and Steve Smith
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date: 04 December 2023

1. p. 13International Relations and Social Sciencelocked

1. p. 13International Relations and Social Sciencelocked

  • Milja Kurki
  •  and Colin Wight


This chapter focuses on the major debates within International Relations (IR) theory with regard to the philosophy of social science. The philosophy of social science has played a key role in the formation, development, and practice of IR as an academic discipline. Issues concerning the philosophy of social science are frequently described as meta-theoretical debates. Meta-theory primarily deals with the underlying assumptions of all theory and attempts to understand the consequences of such assumptions on the act of theorizing and the practice of empirical research. The chapter first provides an historical overview of the philosophy of social science in IR before discussing both the implicit and explicit roles played by meta-theoretical assumptions in IR. It then considers the contemporary disciplinary debates surrounding the philosophy of social science and concludes by analysing how theoretical approaches to the study of world politics have been shaped by meta-theoretical ideas.

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