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Foregrounding ontology: dualism, monism, and IR theory

  • PATRICK THADDEUS JACKSON

Abstract

While the recent proliferation in philosophical discussions in International Relations indicates a welcome increase in the discipline’s conceptual sophistication, a central issue has gone relatively unremarked: the question of how to understand the relationship between scholarly observers and their observed objects. This classical philosophical problem has a number of implications for the conduct of inquiry in the discipline, and raises particular challenges for the status of knowledge-claims advanced by constructivists. I clarify these issues and challenges by distinguishing between ‘dualist’ and ‘monist’ ontological standpoints, in the hope of provoking a more focused philosophical discussion.

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* Earlier versions of this article were presented at the 2004 Midwest Political Science Association annual meeting, the 2004 American Political Science Association annual meeting, and the 2004 Standing Group on International Relations conference. For helpful comments on those papers, and on this version, I would like to thank Dvora Yanow, Micheal Giles, Janice Bially Mattern, Michael Shapiro, Vincent Pouliot, Kiran Pervez, Rom Harre, Nicholas Rengger, and two anonymous reviewers.

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Foregrounding ontology: dualism, monism, and IR theory

  • PATRICK THADDEUS JACKSON

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