Explaining and Understanding International Relations

Explaining and Understanding International Relations

3.53 (49 ratings by Goodreads)
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Are the workings of the international world to be explained scientifically, or are they to be understood through their inward meaning? In Explaining and Understanding International Relations philosopher Martin Hollis and international relations scholar Steve Smith join forces to analyse the dominant theories of international relations and to examine the philosophical issues underlying them.

The book has three parts. In the first the authors review the growth of the discipline since 1918, pose the 'level of analysis' problem of whether to account for a sytem in terms of its units or vice versa, and contrast the demand of scientific method with those of interpretative understanding. In the second they apply the contrast to four factors often cited in accounting for international behaviour - the international system, the state, bureaucracies, and decision-making individuals. Rival
accounts of the games nations play are offered in readiness for the final part, where the authors propose a theoretical agenda, air their differences, and invite readers to take sides.

By tackling deep theoretical issues with lucidity and verve this book will excite debate among theorists and students of international relations while also engaging thought about the philosophical character of the social sciences.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 236 pages
  • 138 x 216 x 15mm | 296g
  • Clarendon Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • line figures
  • 0198275897
  • 9780198275893
  • 619,043

Table of contents

Introduction: Two Traditions; The Growth of a Discipline; Explaining; Understanding; The International System; The Games Nations Play (1); Roles and Reasons; The Games Nations Play (2); Explaining and Understanding; Guide to Further Reading
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Review quote

'thoughtful and stimulating discourse ... The main value of this book is that it offers a thoughtful, step-by-step review of the literature using a common set of questions and concerns. Idealism, Realism ... and Behavioralism are clearly assessed ... a splendid contribution to the study of international relations and the authors deserve a good readership.'
Ashok Kapur, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Perspectives on Political Science, Fall '93 `this book by Martin Hollis and Steve Smith is a very useful guide to intellectual navigation in the fearful sphere of IR ... This book by Hollis and Smith is a comprehensive account and discussion of the options, dilemmas, controversies and perspectives that constitute the dispute. It provides a platform for more conscious and potentially better choices between existing and potential meta-theoretical approaches.'
Cooperation and Conflict 'It is an excellent introduction to IR, defining major terms and presenting major controversies in readily understandable language. Its clarity and precision make it an excellent candidate for an introductory text.'
Pauline Vaillancourt-Rosenau, University of Quebec at Montreal, Canadian Journal of Political Science 'There are very few books that can serve both as an introduction to theoretical debates in international relations and as a contribution to those debates. This is one of them, and a very good one. Jointly authored books rarely work, but this is emphatically not the case here. All the chapters are well structured and clearly written, and some are exceptional ... this is a first-rate addition to the literature of internatioanl theory, and the authors should be
International Affairs `An excellent book.'
Dr Aldrich, University of Nottingham `This book should be of considerable interest to those in the sub-fields of foreign policy analysis and decision-making theory, as well as those wrestling with the philosophical bases of international relations, making this work an important contribution to the study of international relations in the 1990s'
Political Studies `It is an impressive book which will test international relations students.'
Tony Thorndike, Staffordshire Polytechnic `Steve Smith's books are always written clearly, and in a straight-forward way - ideal for undergraduates.'
Dr M. O'Neill, Nottingham Polytechnic
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About Martin Hollis

Martin Hollis is the co-author, with F. Hahn, of the 1979 OUP book Philosophy and Economic Theory which sold 4000 copies before going out of print.
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Rating details

49 ratings
3.53 out of 5 stars
5 18% (9)
4 39% (19)
3 24% (12)
2 14% (7)
1 4% (2)
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