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Structural Realism and the Causes of War

Patrick James
Mershon International Studies Review
Vol. 39, No. 2 (Oct., 1995), pp. 181-208
Published by: Wiley on behalf of The International Studies Association
DOI: 10.2307/222750
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/222750
Page Count: 28
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Structural Realism and the Causes of War
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Abstract

Structural realism is the most prominent contemporary version of real-politik, the traditional paradigm in the study of world politics. However, given recent evidence that favors dyadic over systemic explanations for the outbreak of war, it is appropriate to reassess the achievements of structural realism in this, its most important area of application. A review of studies that use capability-based variables, aggregated at the level of the system, to account for war leads to the conclusion that structural realism remains viable but requires elaboration to compete effectively with alternative theories. In particular, the highest priority for structural realism is the development of a rational choice-based theory of state behavior in response to system structure.

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