Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Rigor or Rigor Mortis? Rational Choice and Security Studies

| Spring 1999

Abstract

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.

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For Academic Citation: Stephen M. Walt. Rigor or Rigor Mortis? Rational Choice and Security Studies.” Quarterly Journal: International Security, vol. 23. no. 4. (Spring 1999):
5-48
.