13 avr« Perception and Misperception 40 years later: Reputation in IR », Robert Jervis (Columbia University), Lundi 28 Avril 2014

Perception and Misperception 40 years later: Reputation in IR

Robert Jervis (Columbia University)

In the almost 40 years since Perception and Misperception, was published, there has been an enormous amount of relevant research in psychology and political psychology. While I think little of it contradicts what I said, it does move in directions that I didn’t explore or that I implied were dead ends. The most important, I believe, concerns the role–or rather the roles–of emotion. First of all, it is clear that the previous habit of contrasting emotion to reason (and exalting the latter) is badly misleading. It is also clear that perceptions can be driven by psychological needs, and what are called « motivated biases » can be very powerful. Indeed I think it is fair to say that psychological and political needs share pride of place with expectations as the prime determinants of perceptions in the political realm (see my « Understanding Beliefs » in the journal Political Psychology).

Another important development is Prospect Theory, which argues that people are much more risk-acceptant when they are in the realm of losses than they are when they are in the realm of gains, something that may be a part of human nature, as I argued in another Political Psychology article. This means that wars are particularly likely when both sides believe they are in the realm of losses, a danger compounded by the difficulty of understanding that the adversary feels it is in this situation.

Work on the biological roots of perception and behavior in the forms of genetics and the neurobiology of the brain hold promise, but also are in the early stages of development and some skepticism is in order.

For many years, much work in IR and other fields was based on a rational choice theory of reputation. Indeed, this was the approach I used in my first book, The Logic of Images in International Relations. The books by John Mercer and Daryl Press have cast this into doubt, although Gregory Miller’s recent book reasserts the older view with better research. The topic is without doubt extremely important and deserves deeper conceptualization and research. But I think it is clear that there is much to the point made by Snyder and Diesing 40 years ago–leaders are very concerned about their own reputations but pay much less attention to those of others. Contrary to the American preoccupation (shared with other countries?), backing down in one instance does not automatically lead to a reputation for being weak or irresolute.

Discussant: Gloria Origgi (CNRS, ENS-EHESS)

Lundi 28 Avril 17.00-19.00
Lieu: Sciences Po, salle 511, 199 blvd St. Germain (rez-de-chaussée)

02 marDario Battistella (Sciences Po Bordeaux – Ehess), « Un monde unidimensionnel », Mardi 5 Avril

Un monde unidimensionnel

Dario Battistella (Sciences Po Bordeaux – Ehess)

Où en est l’ordre politique international vingt ans après la fin de la guerre froide? Dans son dernier ouvrage, Dario Battistella propose la thèse d’ « Un monde undimensionnel », inspirée par un réalisme critique appliquant au monde contemporain les écrits de l’entre-deux-guerres d’Edward Carr et de Carl Schmitt mettant l’accent sur la domination en termes de puissance pour le premier et en termes de normes pour le second. L’essai part des pronostics établis il y a une vingtaine d’année pour mieux analyser le monde de l’après-guerre froide comme une unipolarité enveloppée d’hégémonie : la distribution unipolaire de la puissance sur le plan matériel du système interétatique est intériorisée comme réalité par les grandes puissances et débouche sur le triomphe du libéralisme international au niveau de la praxis prévalant au sein de la société internationale. Concrètement, au sein du système interétatique prévaut le bandwagoning plus que le balancing, alors que la société internationale pratique la surveillance des Etats faillis et la punition des Etats voyous.

Discutant : Bertrand Badie (Sciences Po)

Mardi 5 Avril – 17-00 – 19.00
Ceri, Salle Jean Monnet


30 novJack Snyder (Columbia University), « Religion and IR Theory », Tuesday November 2nd 2010

Jack Snyder (Columbia University)

Since September 11, 2001, religion has become a central topic in discussions about international politics. And yet the standard works of US international relations theory, which continue to shape much academic research, hardly mention religion. A handful of new works by young US international relations scholars have begun to fill this gap. The best of this new work is represented in Religion and International Relations Theory, edited by Jack Snyder, forthcoming from Columbia University Press in March 2011. Snyder’s overview of the project will focus on four approaches to integrating religion into theoretically-grounded international relations scholarship: (1) working within the traditional US paradigms of realism, liberalism, and social constructivism, (2) supplanting existing paradigms with a religion-centered theory, such as the “clash of civilizations” thesis, (3) analyzing secularisms as worldviews comparable to religions, and (4) treating religion as a variable in testable hypotheses about the causes of conflict international relations.

Discussant: Denis Lacorne (CERI)
CERI – Salle de conférences 5pm – 7pm

30 novCharlotte Epstein (Sidney University), « When the Pre-modern is Post-modern: Hobbes, Lacan and the Making of the International System », Thursday September 23rd 2010

Charlotte Epstein (Sidney University)

From Hans Morgenthau to Kenneth Waltz, via Carl Schmitt, the writings of Thomas Hobbes have played a key role in shaping Realist understandings of the international system. Less appraised are the uncanny similarities that exist between his political ontology and that of Jacques Lacan. In this paper I return to this fount of Realism to I show how these two worlds – that of the early modern thinker of the post-modern psychoanalyst – reveal ontologies of dependence and relationality. Specifically, I show that the figure of the sovereign, the linchpin of Hobbes’ political order, represents none other than Lacan’s Other. The implications are significant, as, in the light of these resemblances, the conclusions realists have drawn with regards to the possibilities of states’ acting in that system appear a misreading of Hobbes. Underpinning Hobbes’s thought is in fact a sense of the fundamental dependence between the self and the Other that rule out the type of survivalist behavior that they describe and prescribe.

Discussant: Ariel Colonomos (CNRS-CERI)
CERI, Salle du Conseil – 4ème étage – 5pm-7pm