ABSTRACT

In the previous chapter I argued that the mainstream positivist approach in the realm of security studies proceeds from a particular set of rather narrow (and often implicit) metatheoretical assumptions.1 Given the devotion to an empiricist epistemology, positivist social science entraps itself within the limits of what Taylor calls “brute data identification,”2 i.e., the search for facts which are purely observable, objectively given and non-interpretable. Due to its adherence to a natural science-inspired model of cause-finding and verification/falsification, it sets strict boundaries for any possible inquiry. Moreover, many ontological fixations and deep-seated metatheoretical stipulations that are inherent in the prevalent paradigms result in a theoretical stand-off, with approaches becoming mutually incommensurable and incapable of dialogue. It seems promising to put these debates on hold and tackle the issue of proliferation from a different – eclecticist – angle rather than to keep arguing endlessly over whether systemic threats or hostile identities or universal norms or economic considerations tipped the scales in favor of or against the acquisition of nuclear weapons. The goal is to elaborate for each case a multiperspectival, pluralist explanation which sheds light on the deeply political negotiation processes underlying states’ nuclear trajectories.