Briefly Explain the Idealist Approach to International Relations

Topic: Briefly explain the Idealist approach to International Relations. To get an insight of what realism and liberalism is all about four (4) questions must be asked and answered and before asking- What is Liberalism/Idealism? Those questions are: what is a theory? Why theories are necessary? What is hypothesis? And how many types of theories are there? All these questions will give basic knowledge about the three theories of international relations; but the topic sets a limit to how many theories to cover and that theory is liberalism/idealism. What is a theory? According to gavilan, a theory simplifies reality.
It is a perspective which tells you where to look. A statement of cause and effect/outcome- what correlates? Why does this regularity occur? The cause and effect underlined above implies the independent or explanatory variable and dependent variable respectively. Why are theories necessary? (1) Too much information available to be able to process it without guidance about what is relevant or irrelevant. (2) No rational action without hypothesis about cause and effect. What is hypothesis? Every theory brings out hypothesis. A hypothesis is a testable implication of a theory. Evidence supports a theory but does not prove it.
How many types of theories are there? There are three major theories; these theories are: Realism, Liberalism, and Constructivism. Constructivism is divided into Marxism and Post- modernism and Post- structuralism. After knowing all these, the question- what is idealism/liberalism? Can be asked, but, due to the relation of liberalism/idealism with reciprocity principle the definition of collective goods problem should be stated. Collective good problem is how a group of nations serve the/its group interest or collective interest by doing so members to forfeit their individual interest.

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In other words, it is the problem of shared interest versus competing interest. It solves the problem of how to provide something that benefits every member regardless of what each member contribute. Idealism/liberalism: According to Goldstein et al, “like any other international relation theory has no general definition, but it sees the rules of IR as gradually evolving through time and becoming more passive- such advancement results chiefly from the gradual build up of international organizations and mutual cooperation (reciprocity) and secondarily from change in norms and public opinion (identity). The definition in the continuing note is in accord to gavilan “According to Kegley and Wittkopt (2006: pg28), ‘liberalism is known as a paradigm anticipated on hope that the appliance of reason and universal principles to international relations can lead to a more organizes, impartial, and cooperative world, and that international anarchy [lack of world government] ad war can be supervised by institutional reforms that empower international organizations and laws’” Liberal theories of IR try to explain how peace and cooperation are possible.
It gives instances of how realism offers mostly the principle of dominance to solve the collective goods problems of IR, while it (idealism) draws its solution mostly on the reciprocity and identity principle. Assumptions of Liberalism/Idealism According to jefferyfields (n. d) [Online], the following are assumptions of idealism. 1. “Human nature is effectively good or humane: People are capable of mutual aid and collaboration through reason and ethically inspired education. ” Jefferyfields (n. d) [Online] 2. “The fundamental human concern for others’ welfare makes progress possible. jefferyfields (n. d) [Online] 3. “Bad human behaviour, such as violence, is the product not of flawed people but of evil institutions that encourage people to act selfishly and to harm others. ” jefferyfields (n. d) [Online] 4. “War and international anarchy are not inevitable and war’s frequency can be reduced by strengthening the institutional arrangements that encourage its disappearance. ” jefferyfields (n. d) [Online] 5. “War is a global problem requiring collective or multilateral, rather than national, efforts to control it. jefferyfields (n. d) [Online] 6. “Reforms must be inspired by a compassionate ethical concern for the welfare and security of all people, and this humanitarian motive requires the inclusion of morality in statecraft. ” jefferyfields (n. d) [Online] 7. “International society must reorganize itself in order to eliminate the institutions that make war likely, and states must reform their political systems so that self-determination and democratic governance within states can help pacify relations among states. ” jefferyfields (n. d) [Online]
Prisoners Dilemma Giving an example of two prisoners who are incarcerated; noting that they are meeting for the first time- the options given to them would either be to turn on each other or cooperate with each other. The two prisoners are likely to turn on each other or not cooperate with each other because of the condition of their meeting. The given example displays the nature of countries in the international system when approached with similar problem or decision. The self protecting nature of states renders cooperation impractical.
This is in line with the prisoners who decline to cooperate with one another because they either do not trust one another or want to protect their interest. Conclusion In conclusion, the international relation theory called liberalism is an argument against the realist view. According to Goldstein et al (2012 pg86)A, if dominance solution is offered mostly by the realist or realism to solve the collective goods problems of I. R. , alternative theories draw mostly on the reciprocity and identity principles. These theories are more optimistic than realism about the prospect of peace.
Goldstein et al (2012 pg86)B said, “realist see the law of power politics as relatively timeless and unchanging, while liberal theorists view I. R. rules as gradually evolving through time and becoming more peaceful- such advancement results chiefly from the gradual build up of international organizations and mutual cooperation (reciprocity) and secondarily from change in norms and public opinion (identity). Liberal theory among others holds that we are not doomed to a country of recurring war but can achieve a more peaceful world. ” In addition, in accord with Goldstein et al (2012 pg86) liberal theory eviews domestic politics and foreign policy making, unlike realism, which places importance on domestic and individual levels of analysis in explaining state behaviour. All this display the peaceful nature/motive of the liberal theorist. BIBLOGRAPHY Goldstein, S. J. Pevehouse, J. C. (2012) International Relations (Tenth Edition) United States: Pearson. http://hhh. gavilan. edu/mturetzky/pols4/TheoreticalPerspectivesLiberalismRealism. htm http://jeffreyfields. net/427/Site/Blog/3C90C230-B47B-4894-8E8E-F4C5078BDD88_files/Rourke-Realism,%20Liberalism,%20Constructivism. pdf http://www. princeton. edu/~amoravcs/library/preferences. pdf

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