Agents, Structures and International Relations: Politics as Ontology (Cambridge Studies in International Relations) 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0521674164
ISBN-10: 0521674166
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Paperback, October 23, 2006
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Editorial Reviews


"This deeply learned, richly referenced book should become both the Hollis and Smith and the Lakatos and Musgrave of the next generation of serious IR scholars and teachers. ...Colin Wight ... helps heal recurring epistemological and methodological lesions within the disciplinary body of International Relations." Hayward R. Alker, School of International Relations, University of Southern California and Adjunct Professor, The Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University

"No one in International Relations is more philosophically aware than Colin Wight. The 'ontological investigations' Colin Wight undertakes in this magnificent book give scientific realism the depth needed to make sense of important issues: levels, emergent structures, causality and constitution, agency and identity, states as persons. Most of all, he sets up the agent-structure problem, not as a problem per se, but as a map for developing theories and choosing methods. Even if he doesn't change your mind, you will have to rethink almost everything." Nicholas Onuf, Professor Emeritus, Florida International University

"Colin Wight's book is a comprehensive tour de force in reviewing and assessing the ontological underpinnings of social and international theory. Importantly, it also explains why a general theory of international relations is not possible. Highly recommendable!" Heikki Patomäki, Department of Political Science, University of Helsinki and Research Director, Network Institute for Global Democratisation

Book Description

This 2006 book analyses the agent-structure problem and argues there are many gaps in IR theory that can only be understood through ontology - the metaphysical study of existence and reality. He integrates international relations theory with social theory, stressing the problem is an issue of concern to the wider human sciences.

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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Studies in International Relations (Book 101)
  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (October 23, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521674166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521674164
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,324,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Wight's exploration of the Agent-Structure problem is thorough and extensive. He touches on all of the major points of the debate and does a good job of highlighting its theoretical and methodological underpinnings. His own views are laid out succinctly, are easy to follow, and are a sound contribution.

This is, however, a technical theory laden book and requires a good bit of knowledge about the discipline to be of any use. Definitively not recommended for someone new to the field of International Relations, or looking for an introduction to the problem in the Social Sciences broadly. With this caveat it is the most contemporary and comprehensive treatment of the Agent-Structure debate to date, and a must read for researchers and scholars in that area.
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Agents, Structures and International Relations: Politics as Ontology (Cambridge Studies in International Relations)
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