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date: 29 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Realism is one of the best-known and longest-established approaches to International Security, but the level of diversity that exists within the label often goes underappreciated. This chapter first enumerates and explains the primary divergent strands co-existing within realism: structural, neoclassical, and revived classical realism. It then outlines the ways different types of realist vary in their answers to key social-scientific questions: Should theory be predictive, and if so what kinds of predictions can realism hope to make? Is realism a theory of rational action? Is it purely descriptive and explanatory, or also normative/prescriptive? Do “ideas” matter in a realist framework, and if so in what way? Finally, taking all the preceding into account, can realism still claim to be a distinctive approach, united by some common principle or principles?

Keywords: theory, realism, structural, neoclassical, classical, prediction, rationality, ideas

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