Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 November 2021
This chapter provides an overview of how Adler’s social theory of cognitive evolution helps us study international orders. First, we compare and contrast world ordering theory with its main alternatives in International Relations, starting with Ikenberry’s. Second, we elaborate on the key building blocks of cognitive evolution theory, including evolution and process, communities of practice, creativity and learning, social order and bounded progress. Third and finally, we raise a number of critical questions about Adler’s theory, in order to chart new avenues for future research. We ask about the role of material forces, the interaction of multiple orders, the conceptualization of power and agency, the place of communication and the normative extensions that the theory suggests. We conclude by presenting the following chapters in the book.