This is an outline of the article, Confutation of Political Realism, written by B.Fozouni and published in International Studies Quarterly (1995).
CONFUTATION OF POLITICAL REALISM
Main Point: Political realism as a theory in international relations, properly understood, is an empirically untenable theory (p. 479).
The theory we are analyzing:
Morgenthau has the central tenant of realism being: the sole basis of all international relations is the struggle among nations to optimize their power (p.480-481)
Power is defined as the quest to reach optimal power (influence) in relation to other states (p.481).
Rationally acting states optimize one's power (p.482)
He also mentions that there is an assumption regarding human nature – that all men are power driven (483)
M didn't need this assumption. He should've not dealt in it. (484)
Simply because if you add this to the premises – and all premises must be true – there is no proven truth in this statement.
So we can ignore it right?
Deductive-Nomological Theory (D-N)
Must have a valid structure – particular initial conditions and general laws (the premises) result in the event or observation to be explained (482)
Must also have the following 3 things:
The premises must have empirical content
The premises must contain at least one universal generalizations (laws)
These are assumed to have proven empirical basis
The premises must be true – a presupposition
If all the premises of realism are true – the realism has created a grand theory that should encompass everything (485)
No mention of human nature in the theoretical structure – therefore it is unnecessary (see above)
So why can't we discard it as unnecessary and use the rest?
Particular Initial conditions (483)
State A has the capability to expand its influence in its geopolitical sphere
State A's relative power position in its geopolitical sphere is underextended
General Laws (483)
All states that have the capability to expand their influence, and whose relative power positions in their geopolitical spheres are underextended, will expand their influence to power optimization
State A will expand its influence in its geopolitical sphere (prediction)
State A did expand its influence in the geopolitical sphere (explanation/reason)
Empirical Liabilities of Realism
The question of the empirical analysis is: How well confirmed are the observed historical patterns that M uses to justify realism's central tenet of power optimization.