International theory: the case for a classical approach

TitleInternational theory: the case for a classical approach
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1966
AuthorsBull, H
JournalWorld Politics: A Quarterly Journal of International Relations
Pagination361–377
KeywordsConstructivism
Contribution: 

Main Argument: Two approaches to the theory of international relations at present compete for our attention: classical approach and scientific one. The classic approach derives from philosophy, history, and law, and that is characterized above all by explicit reliance upon the exercise of judgment and by the assumptions that if we confine ourselves to strict standards of verification and proof there is very little of significance that can be said about international relations, that general propositions about this subject must therefore derive from a scientifically imperfect process of perception or intuition, and that these general propositions cannot be accorded anything more than the tentative and inconclusive status appropriate to their doubtful origin. The scientific approach contributes very little to the theory of IR and is positively harmful.