Shapeless Science, Positivism and Realism in IR

  • Michal Kořan
Keywords: Epistemology, History of Science, Historiography of International Relations, Philosophy, Philosophy of Science, Positivism, Rationalism, Realism, Sociology of Science, Theories of International Relations


This essay starts from the argument that the first question preceding any meaningful scientific inquiry is one of a purpose and mission of scientific enterprise as such. Taking a historizing approach, it indicates that the nineteenth century positivist philosophy was built precisely around these questions, while it was precisely these questions again that were abandoned after the general acceptance of positivism in the USA during and after World War II. The essay then argues that IR realism, when aligned with the person and legacy of Hans J. Morgenthau, is a priori incompatible with both the original positivist philosophy and the positivism that eventually appeared in the USA with regard to questions of the "mission of science". Following this, the essay shows the consequences of the spread of positivism for IR.

Author Biography

Michal Kořan



Epistemology of Social Science Forum