I&S Debate Forum March 2004
ture as its power grew and shifted to a more defensive one as its powerdeclined.In this article, I first clarify that realism is a paradigm that embodiesa wide range of competing theories. I then highlight the appeal of buck-passing over balancing in offensive realism. Next, I explain that revi-sionism in offensive realism refers to the intentions of a state to changethe balance of power in its favor, which may not reflect actual behavior if thestatelacks such capability. To support my claim about the applicabilityof realism to Asia, I present evidence from imperial China. I concludeby suggesting that realism is a venerable research tradition that is capableof making progress. The article ends with a rejoinder to Chan's closingremarks.
Realism: AParadigm (Not aTheory)
As Sean M. Lynn-Jones and Steven E. Miller have succinctly stated,"Realism is a general approach to international politics, not a singletheory."
Stephen Van Evera points out that "realism is a paradigm, notatheory."
RobertGilpin also writes that "realism ...isessentially aphilos-ophical position; it is not a scientific theory that is subject to the test of falsifiability and, therefore, cannot beproved ordisproved."
Asaresearchprogram, realism comprises a number of competing theories: classicalrealism, structural realism (neorealism), defensive realism, offensive real-ism, neoclassical realism, and the like. Most of these theories share a fewcommon assumptions: states are the central actors, the world is anarchic,
Sean M. Lynn-Jones and Steven E. Miller, "Preface," in
The Perils of Anarchy: Contempo-rary Realism and International Security
, ed. Michael E. Brown, Sean M. Lynn-Jones, andSteven E. Miller (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1995).
Stephen Van Evera, "Elements of the Realist Paradigm: What Are They?" (Typescript,January 27, 1992), 4, quoted in Benjamin Frankel, "Restating the Realist Case: An Intro-duction," in
Realism: Restatement and Renewal
, ed. Benjamin Frankel (London: FrankCass, 1996), xiii.
5, no. 3(Spring1996):6.