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Critical International TheoryAn Intellectual History$
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Richard Devetak

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198823568

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198823568.001.0001

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International Relations before Critical Theory

International Relations before Critical Theory

Methodenstreit and the Rise of Theory

(p.18) 1 International Relations before Critical Theory
Critical International Theory

Richard Devetak

Oxford University Press

The chapter elaborates the post-war disciplinary context from which critical international theory emerged. While most accounts start with the so-called ‘third debate’, this chapter situates its emergence in the longer story of the rise in theory’s prestige in the social sciences. It tells the story of a series of disputes over method (Methodenstreit) that paved the way not just for higher levels of theoretical abstraction, and a never vanquished humanist challenge to the scientific outlook. It was during the 1950s that the persona of the theorist was first established in international relations. In the following decades, personae of the international relations theorist evolved through academic institutionalization of certain epistemic practices and technical capabilities modelled on behaviouralist and philosophy-of-science standards. The stage was thus set for a rival, namely, critical intellectual persona to emerge in opposition to both the humanist and scientific outlooks, but in continuity with the ever-higher orders of abstraction.

Keywords:   Methodenstreit, rise of theory, acts of abstraction, scientific revolution, behaviouralism, Hans J. Morgenthau, realism, Hedley Bull, classical approach, Kenneth Waltz

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