Taking Preferences Seriously:ALiberal Theory of International Politics
This article reformulates liberal international relations (IR) theory in a nonideological andnonutopian form appropriate to empirical social science. Liberal IR theory elaborates theinsight that state-society relations—the relationship of states to the domestic and transna-tional social context in which they are embedded—have a fundamental impact on statebehaviorinworldpolitics.Societalideas,interests,andinstitutionsinﬂuencestatebehaviorbyshapingstatepreferences,thatis,thefundamentalsocialpurposesunderlyingthestrate-giccalculationsofgovernments.Forliberals,theconﬁgurationofstatepreferencesmattersmost in world politics—not, as realists argue, the conﬁguration of capabilities and not, asinstitutionalists(thatis,functionalregimetheorists)maintain,theconﬁgurationofinforma-tion and institutions.This article codiﬁes this basic liberal insight in the form of three coretheoretical assumptions, derives from them three variants of liberal theory, and demon-stratesthattheexistenceofacoherentliberaltheoryhassigniﬁcanttheoretical,methodologi-cal,andempiricalimplications.Restatedinthisway,liberaltheorydeservestobetreatedasaparadigmaticalternativeempiricallycoequalwithandanalyticallymorefundamen-tal than the two dominant theories in contemporary IR scholarship: realism and insti-tutionalism.
For detailed comments and criticisms, I am grateful above all toAnne-Marie Slaughter, who was therefrom the beginning, and to Lea Brilmayer, Lawrence Broz, Marc Busch, James Caporaso, Dale Copeland,David Dessler, Jeffry Frieden, Martha Finnemore, Charles Glazer, Michael Griesdorf, Stefano Guzzini,Ernst Haas, Stanley Hoffmann, Stephen Holmes, Ted Hopf, Alan Houston, David Lumsdaine, RobertKeohane,Yuen Khong, Larry Kramer, David Long, Steven Lukes, James Marquart, Lisa Martin, JonathanMercer, Henry Nau, Kalypso Nicolaı¨dis, James Nolt, Joseph Nye, John Odell, Kenneth Oye, RobertPaarlberg, Daniel Philpott, Gideon Rose, Judith Shklar, David Skidmore, Allison Stanger, Janice Stein,AndrewWallace,CelesteWallander,StephenWalt,AlexanderWendt,MarkZacher,FareedZakaria,MichaelZu¨rn, and three anonymous referees. I thank also two other critics: Peter Katzenstein encouraged a moredirect comparison with constructivist approaches and John Mearsheimer invited me to state the liberalcase vis-a`-vis realism in a series of public debates. I am also indebted to participants in seminars at theProgram on International Politics, Economics, and Security (PIPES), University of Chicago; University of Konstanz; University of Toronto; University of California, San Diego; Olin Institute and Center for Inter-nationalAffairs, Harvard University; International Jurisprudence Colloquium, New York University LawSchool; Fletcher School, Tufts University; and the European University Institute. For research support, Ithank Amit Sevak, Brian Portnoy, and PIPES. For more detailed and documented versions of this article,see Moravcsik 1992.
51, 4,Autumn 1997, pp. 513–53
1997 by The IO Foundation and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology@xyserv1/disk3/CLS_jrnl/GRP_inor/JOB_inor619/DIV_619z01 kris