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2008 - ISA's 49th ANNUAL CONVENTION, BRIDGING MULTIPLE DIVIDES Pages: 17 pages || Words: 5934 words || 
1. Whiting, Benjamin. and Carlson, Jon. "Model Theory & International Relations Theory: Positivism, Ontology and the Nature of Social Science" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ISA's 49th ANNUAL CONVENTION, BRIDGING MULTIPLE DIVIDES, Hilton San Francisco, SAN FRANCISCO, CA, USA, Mar 26, 2008 Online <PDF>. 2019-11-13 <>
Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: When it comes to scientific investigation, positivism is no longer the only game in town, nor is it even the most prominent theory of how science works. Model Theory has become ascendent within the natural sciences, yet is still not explicitly rpesent in IR Theorizing. This paper seeks to rectify this shortcoming. Model Theory is a fundamentally different understanding of the nature of science, including different ontological and explanatory commitments. This paper argues that Model Theory does a far better job than positivism in accounting for the descriptive nature of mainstream IR Theory, and we argue that much of IR Theory is already working in a Model Theoretic framework. In accepting such a framework, we posit that IR theorists may bypass a number of important (and often unquestioned) issues arising from their ontological commitments to positivism, while not betraying their commitment to keeping the discipline scientific.

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