What Moves Man

The Realist Theory of International Relations and Its Judgment of Human Nature

By Annette Freyberg-Inan

Subjects: International Relations
Series: SUNY series in Global Politics
Paperback : 9780791458280, 272 pages, November 2003
Hardcover : 9780791458273, 272 pages, November 2003

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Table of contents

1. Introduction


Exploring the Realist Image of Man
Main Arguments
Approach and Layout of This Book
Why is This Study Important?


Part I: What Moves Man? An Analysis of the Realist Psychology

2. The Roots of Realism


The Roots of Realism in the History of Thucydides
Alternatives to Realism in the History of Thucydides
Summary and Conclusions


3. Realism Goes Modern


Niccolo Machiavelli
Thomas Hobbes
Summary and Conclusions


4. Realism Today


"Classical" Realism in the Twentieth Century
Neorealism and Beyond
Rational Choice and Game Theory
Summary and Conclusions


5. Realist Man through the Ages: A Synopsis


The Realist Image of Man
The Role of Motivational Assumptions in Realist Theory
The Effects of the Realist Use of Motivational Assumptions


Part II: Sunglasses at Night: A Critique of the Realist Psychology

6. What Is Wrong with the Realist Psychology?


The Incompleteness of Realist Motivational Assumptions
The Bias of Realist Motivational Assumptions
Realist Defenses


7. The Effects of the Realist Bias


How Biased Assumptions Produce Biased Interpretations
How Biased Interpretations Affect Realist Scholarship
How Theoretical Biases Affect Reality
How the Realist Bias Affects International Politics


8. A Self-Fulfilling Prophesy?


The Problem of the Self-Fulfilling Prophesy
The Prophetic Status of the Realist Paradigm
Concluding Observations


9. Conclusion: Great Debates and Small Suggestions


Realism—Where Do We Go from Here?
Complementary Motivational Assumptions in International Relations Theory
Transcending the Third Debate


Appendix: Biographical Notes on Authors of Classical Realism




A critical look at the image of human nature that underlies the realist theory of international relations.


The realist theory of international relations is based on a particularly gloomy set of assumptions about universal human motives. Believing people to be essentially asocial, selfish, and untrustworthy, realism counsels a politics of distrust and competition in the international arena. What Moves Man subjects realism to a broad and deep critique. Freyberg-Inan argues, first, that realist psychology is incomplete and suffers from a pessimistic bias. Second, she explains how this bias systematically undermines both realist scholarship and efforts to promote international cooperation and peace. Third, she argues that realism's bias has a tendency to function as a self-fulfilling prophecy: it nurtures and promotes the very behaviors it assumes predominate human nature. Freyberg-Inan concludes by suggesting how a broader and more complex view of human motivation would deliver more complete explanations of international behavior, reduce the risk of bias, and better promote practical progress in the conduct of international affairs.

Annette Freyberg-Inan is Assistant Professor of World and Comparative Politics at the University of Amsterdam.