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Is Anyone Listening? International Relations Theory and the Problem of Policy Relevance

Is Anyone Listening? International Relations Theory and the Problem of Policy Relevance JOSEPH LEPGOLD is associate professor of international affairs and government at Georgetown University. His most recent book, edited with Andrew Bennett and Danny Unger, is Friends in Need: Burden Sharing in the Gulf War. Political Science Quarterly Volume 113 Number 1 1998 43 44 j political science quarterly lyze the strategic context facing political leaders precisely enough to evaluate competing causal claims. Fourth, theory can be useful to policy makers in various ways, and different theories will contribute more to some than others. Of course, people who are profoundly skeptical of social-science theory are unlikely to be enthusiastic about efforts to make theory relevant to policy choices. But the issue for theorists who feel otherwise is what they can do to further this purpose. A generation ago, Abraham Kaplan suggested a solution: The criticism that a plan of action is “all right in theory but it won’t work in practice” . . . must be properly understood. The theory may specify conditions which are not ful lled in the particular case before us; the criticism then amounts to saying that the proposal is a good solution, but to another problem. A theory may even involve conditions which can http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Political Science Quarterly Wiley

Is Anyone Listening? International Relations Theory and the Problem of Policy Relevance

Political Science Quarterly , Volume 113 (1) – Mar 1, 1998

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
1998 The Academy of Political Science
ISSN
0032-3195
eISSN
1538-165X
DOI
10.2307/2657650
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

JOSEPH LEPGOLD is associate professor of international affairs and government at Georgetown University. His most recent book, edited with Andrew Bennett and Danny Unger, is Friends in Need: Burden Sharing in the Gulf War. Political Science Quarterly Volume 113 Number 1 1998 43 44 j political science quarterly lyze the strategic context facing political leaders precisely enough to evaluate competing causal claims. Fourth, theory can be useful to policy makers in various ways, and different theories will contribute more to some than others. Of course, people who are profoundly skeptical of social-science theory are unlikely to be enthusiastic about efforts to make theory relevant to policy choices. But the issue for theorists who feel otherwise is what they can do to further this purpose. A generation ago, Abraham Kaplan suggested a solution: The criticism that a plan of action is “all right in theory but it won’t work in practice” . . . must be properly understood. The theory may specify conditions which are not ful lled in the particular case before us; the criticism then amounts to saying that the proposal is a good solution, but to another problem. A theory may even involve conditions which can

Journal

Political Science QuarterlyWiley

Published: Mar 1, 1998

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