chapter  10
43 Pages

Meta-theory and Modernity

ByPeter Lomas

This chapter focuses on some recent alternatives to traditional empirical and Realist approaches. The primacy accorded by social science method to theory, method and empirics makes sense only if we assume that its distinctive purpose is to illuminate patterns of cause-and-effect relations in the concrete empirical world of politics. The convincing argument for meta-theory— in international or any other studies— is that the world is too complex and unknowable for "distinctive testable hypotheses" to be made. In this connection Raymond Cohen has developed an interesting empirical approach showing rules of communication as essential to order in a domain of states that is itself sui generis. A theory is a hypothetical description of phenomena which becomes an actual description when evidence is adduced to support it. The general psychological uncertainties and paradoxes of the modern world to which post-modernists draw attention are symptomatic of a condition one could link to the Europe of the Renaissance, or the Greece of the Stoics.