The realist paradigm and degenerative versus progressive research programs: An appraisal of neotraditional research on Waltz's balancing proposition

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Several analysts argue that, despite anomalies, the realist paradigm is dominant because it is more fertile than its rivals. While the ability of the realist paradigm to reformulate its theories in light of criticism accounts for its persistence, it is argued that the proliferation of emendations exposes a degenerating tendency in the paradigm's research program. This article applies Lakatos's criterion that a series of related theories must produce problemshifts that are progressive rather than degenerating to appraise the adequacy of realist-based theories on the balancing of power advanced by neotraditionalists. This research program is seen as degenerating because of (1) the protean character of its theoretical development, (2) an unwillingness to specify what constitutes the true theory, which if falsified would lead to a rejection of the paradigm, (3) a continual adoption of auxiliary propositions to explain away flaws, and (4) a dearth of strong research findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)899-912
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Volume91
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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