Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security
Rigor or Rigor Mortis? Rational Choice and Security Studies
In recent years rational choice theory has experienced a surge in popularity among political scientists. Its usefulness, however, remains highly controversial. In our lead article, Stephen Walt of the University of Chicago argues that the outcome of this debate will have deep and long-lasting consequences for scholarly discourse. Given that the stakes are so high, Walt contends that if rational choice theory is to achieve general acceptance, it must be "precise, logically consistent, original, and empirically valid." Applying these criteria to several prominent formal theory works in security studies, Walt concludes that in general rational choice methods fail to offer new insights into the study of security issues.