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|Friday, 05 October 2007|
Neorealism shuns classical realism's use of often essentialist concepts such as "human nature" to explain international politics. Instead, neorealist thinkers developed a theory that privileges structural constraints over agents' strategies and motivations.
Neorealism has been criticized from the point of view of the philosophy of science. John Vasquez uses the Lakatosian criteria of the Methodology of Scientific Research Programs in an attempt to prove the degenrative nature of the neorealist research program. Thus, Waltz's theory of neorealism explains international behaviour through the balance-of-power concept, according to which states in alsmot all cases balance each other in order to survive. Stephen Walt, on the other hand, argues that states do not balance power, but there is a so-called balance-of-threat, thus always balancing states which seem to be the most threatening, no t necessarily the most powerful. Randall Schweller introduces the concept of balance-of-interests, better known as bandwagoning. Thomas J. Christensen and Jack Snyder try to correct gaps in Waltz's original theory by using the concepts of buck-passing and chain-ganging. However these similar tehories contradict each other, at least partially: for example balancing versus bandwagoning. Vasquez considers them as theoryshifts which explain away discrepant evidence. These contradictory hypotheses increase the probability that at least one passes an empirical test, thus the whole neorealist research program showing signs of degeneration. (Vasquez, John 1997:"The Realist Paradigm and Degenerative versus Progressive Research Programs". In: American Political Science Review, 39(December):899-912)
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