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The Ideas Debate in International and European Studies: Towards a Cartography and Critical Assessment
Gofas, Andreas; Hay, Colin
Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals
The appeal to ideas as causal variables and/or constitutive features of political processes increasingly characterises political analysis. Yet, perhaps because of the pace of this ideational intrusion, too often ideas have simply been grafted onto pre-existing explanatory theories at precisely the point at which they seem to get into difficulties, with little or no consideration either of the status of such ideational variables or of the character or consistency of the resulting theoretical hybrid. This is particularly problematic for ideas are far from innocent variables – and can rarely, if ever, be incorporated seamlessly within existing explanatory and/or constitutive theories without ontological and epistemological consequence. We contend that this tendency along with the limitations of the prevailing Humean conception of causality, and associated epistemological polemic between causal and constitutive logics, continue to plague almost all of the literature that strives to accord an explanatory role to ideas. In trying to move beyond the current vogue for epistemological polemic, we argue that the incommensurability thesis between causal and constitutive logics is only credible in the context of a narrow, Humean, conception of causation. If we reject this in favour of a more inclusive (and ontologically realist) understanding then it is perfectly possible to chart the causal significance of constitutive processes and reconstrue the explanatory role of ideas as causally constitutive.
Relacions internacionals
Relacions internacionals -- Comunitat Europea
Relacions internacionals -- Europa
Elecció racional, Teoria de l'
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42 p.
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Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals
IBEI Working Papers 2008/11;

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