Journal article Open Access

Making sense of the study of international relations: Seeking a guide for perplexed

Gunnell, John

Patrick Jackson’s book on The Conduct of Inquiry in International Relations offers graduate students, younger scholars, and, indeed, many specialists a useful map for charting the often inhospitable terrain of scholarship in the field of International Relations (IR). This is particularly the case as far as illuminating the awakening to issues in the philosophy of science that has taken place in IR during the last two decades. Jackson presents a typology for sorting the debates about the nature and demands of scientific inquiry, which have often been conducted, either explicitly or implicitly, in terms of diverse and complicated philosophical arguments. As opposed to many previous analyses, which have tended to be couched in terms of dichotomies and biased toward a particular philosophical persuasion, Jackson’s scheme is remarkably neutral, but, in some respects, maybe too neutral.

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