Positivism 'vs' Postmodernism: Does Epistemology Make a Difference?
Abbreviated Journal Title
postmodernism; philosophy of science; epistemology; positivism; International Relations; Political Science
Since the 1990s, international relations theory (IR) has supposedly been in the grip of a 'Third Debate', this time between positivism and postmodernism. While many have cast doubt as to whether this is in fact the case, and others have argued that it is time to move beyond it, it remains true to say that the issue of positivism vs postpositivism has occupied the minds of a number of academic analysts in recent years. This article takes the more radical position of questioning whether this epistemological debate - if, indeed, one accepts that there is one - has any real import in the sense of influencing the empirical research that IR scholars actually conduct. In short, whether one embraces a positivist or a postmodernist epistemology (for example) has little practical effect upon one's empirical findings. By extension, this argument suggests that the emphasis on the philosophical underpinnings of IR, while not necessarily misconceived in and of itself, has thus far not been central to what IR scholars actually do. International Politics (2008) 45, 115-128. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ip.8800222
"Positivism 'vs' Postmodernism: Does Epistemology Make a Difference?" (2008). Faculty Bibliography 2000s. 458.