Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Chair

Joseph St Marie

Committee Chair Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Member 2

Tom Lansford

Committee Member 2 Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Member 3

Prad Upadrashta

Committee Member 4

Robert Pauly

Committee Member 4 Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Abstract

Traditionally power has played a dominant role in all realist theories of international politics and little if any room was left for actor agency. Systemic outcomes were a function of system structure. System structure was the result of the positioning of states in the system according to their power. Conflict resulted from system structure. Actor agency was not a relevant consideration because system structure was deterministic. This paper presents a new theorization of realism that it calls material realism. Material realism hypothesizes globalization as a second independent variable alongside power. A longitudinal network model using all conflict events since 1992 is constructed that hypothesizes globalization as acting to mitigate the effect of power and reduce the probability of conflict initiation. Because globalization is at root a system of resource allocation, material realism theorizes that as resources are more adequately allocated globally, scarcity is reduced. As scarcity is reduced, man (and states) fear less for their survival. When survival is not at risk the probability of conflict abates because the cost-to-benefit ratio swings decisively against conflict initiation. By using a longitudinal network model, actor agency is accounted for because conflict events are not assumed to be independent as is the case with more traditional models like logit or OLS regression. Additionally, the use of a longitudinal network model allows for the isolation of the impact of system structure versus actor behavior, thus thwarting charges of reductionism. By using a longitudinal network model to characterize the system of international politics, a true systems theory of international politics is presented. Previous attempts at presenting a systems theory of international politics fell short because they did not account for the impact of actor behavior on system behavior and vice-a-versa. Material realism represents a paradigm shift for realist thinkers because it opens the door for explicit consideration of the effect of actor agency and the undeniable effects of globalization on international political outcomes, especially conflict initiation. Ultimately the conclusion is reached that technology and innovation must continue to advance in order to achieve continuing reductions in conflict initiation over the long term.

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Philosophy Commons

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