A Caltech Library Service

Return of the Luddites

Niou, Emerson M. S. and Ordeshook, Peter C. (1999) Return of the Luddites. International Security, 24 (2). pp. 84-96. ISSN 1531-4804. doi:10.1162/016228899560167.

[img] PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Stephen Walt’s critique of the application of formal analysis to international security studies, we take strong issue with a number of Walt’s arguments and assertions, and we try to clarify what we believe are his misconceptions about the nature and mechanisms of progress in scientific research. We begin, however, by identifying some of the issues we do not dispute with Walt. First, it is true that formal analysis, especially in the area of security studies, is only infrequently motivated by the attempt to explain some well-documented empirical regularity or universally recognized empirical anomaly. If there is room for disagreement here, it is the extent to which regularities or anomalies can be found in the security studies literature that are sufficiently precise to allow careful analysis. Second, there is little disagreement that some formalism exists for its own sake, although we need to be cautious here because much of this rigor seeks to understand the very definition of rationality in complex strategic environments. Third, despite the proliferation of competing models of deterrence, bargaining, coalitions, threats, and so on, those models are rarely set against each other for competitive empirical assessment. Finally, we cannot ignore the fact that very little of what researchers label “theory” is theory in any true sense, but instead is often best described as a demonstration of one’s ability to cobble together assumptions and derive something that can be labeled “lemma” or “theorem.”

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Additional Information:© 1999 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170408-143210468
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:75961
Deposited By: 1Science Import
Deposited On:25 Apr 2017 21:25
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 16:56

Repository Staff Only: item control page