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Reasoning of State
Realists, Romantics and Rationality in International Relations

$34.99 (P)

Part of Cambridge Studies in International Relations

  • Date Published: April 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108446181

$ 34.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • Scholars and citizens tend to assume that rationality guides the decision-making of our leaders. Brian C. Rathbun suggests, however, that if we understand rationality to be a cognitive style premised on a commitment to objectivity and active deliberation, rational leaders are in fact the exception not the norm. Using a unique combination of methods including laboratory bargaining experiments, archival-based case studies, quantitative textual analysis and high-level interviews, Rathbun questions some of the basic assumptions about rationality and leadership, with profound implications for the field of international relations. Case studies of Bismarck and Richelieu show that the rationality of realists makes them rare. An examination of Churchill and Reagan, romantics in international politics who sought to overcome obstacles in their path through force of will and personal agency, show what less rationality looks like in foreign policy making.

    • Questions longstanding assumptions about rationality in foreign policy-making
    • Utilizes a wide variety of research methods
    • Will interest students and scholars of international relations, political psychology and international history, particularly those interested in foreign policy decision making
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    Reviews & endorsements

    ‘Rathbun's argument that many decision-makers are not Realists, but rather are Romantics is original, important, and well supported by analysis and evidence. The result is an important challenge to what is generally believed and even those who are not convinced will need to grapple with it.' Robert Jervis, author of How Statesmen Think

    'Brian C. Rathbun has written a superb book about rationality and romantics in international politics. He asks the important question - when are leaders rational - and looks at the differences across leaders. Leaders are rational and intuitive at different times, but some are typically more of one than the other most of the time. This book changes our understanding of the dynamics of decision making.' Janice Gross Stein, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108446181
    • length: 350 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.51kg
    • contains: 7 b/w illus. 7 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: three theoretical arguments, four 'great men' of history, multiple methods, and disciplines
    1. The psychology of rationality: cognitive style in international relations
    2. The three 'r's of international relations: realism, romanticism and rationality
    3. Little Bismarcks: a laboratory experiment on variation in rational thinking and rational behavior
    4. The 'prince' among men: Bismarck's realpolitik in Prussian politics
    5. Cold blood and iron: Bismarck, the struggle with Austria and German unification
    6. Blind faith: Richelieu, the devoted, and France in counter-reformation Europe
    7. 'Blood, toil, tears and sweat': Churchill, romanticism and the rational appeasement debate
    8. 'In defeat, defiance': Churchill in words (1935–39) and in deeds (1940) with Therese Anders
    9. 'Beginning the world all over again': resolving the paradox of Ronald Reagan
    10. Winning one as the Gipper? Reagan's administration and American engagement with the Soviet Union
    Conclusion: the irrationality of rational choice: saving a paradigm from itself

  • Author

    Brian C. Rathbun, University of Southern California
    Brian C. Rathbun is a Professor in the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California. He is the author of Partisan Interventions (2004), Trust in International Cooperation (2011) and Diplomacy's Value (2014), which won the best book award from the Diplomatic Studies Section of the International Studies Association. He has published articles in journals, such as International Organization, World Politics, International Security and International Studies Quarterly, among others.

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