Spring 2021

Theories of War & Peace

, 4 pts, GR8832


In this course we undertake a comprehensive review of the literature on the causes of war and the conditions of peace, with a primary focus on interstate war. We focus primarily on theory and empirical research in political science but give some attention to work in other disciplines. We examine the leading theories, their key concepts and causal variables, the causal paths leading to war or to peace, and the conditions under which various outcomes are most likely to occur. We also give some attention to the degree of empirical support for various theories and hypotheses, and we look at some of the major empirical research programs on the origins and expansion of war. Our survey includes research utilizing qualitative methods, large-N quantitative methods, formal modeling, and experimental approaches. We also give considerable attention to methodological questions relating to epistemology and research design. Our primary focus, however, is on the logical coherence and analytic limitations of the theories and the kinds of research designs that might be useful in testing them. This course is designed primarily for graduate students who want to understand and contribute to the theoretical and empirical literature in political science on war, peace, and security. Students with different interests and students from other departments can also benefit from the seminar and are also welcome. Ideally, members of the seminar will have some familiarity with basic issues in international relations theory, philosophy of science, research design, and statistical methods. 

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Jack Levy