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What is theory and how to think theoretically

What is theory and how to think theoretically - What is...

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What is theory: James Rossenau The word theory means different things to different people . It may even mean different things to the same person. “In theory” equates to “in the abstract”. Theory as the task of making the world or some part of it more intelligible or better understood. Theories dealing with international relations usually aspire to achieve these goals. Theory is explaining or predicting. One goes beyond mere description of phenomena observed and engages in causal explanation or prediction based on certain prior occurrences or conditions. Others prefer to rely on non-quantitative case and comparative case studies, historical methods, and reasoned argument - the so-called traditional methods of theory building. Quincy Wright’s A Study of War was a pioneering effort. Kenneth Waltz’s Man, the State and War examined causes in the context of three levels of analysis. Theory in a stronger or more formal sense will go beyond proposing the cause of war in such broad terms and will insist that the relations among variables be clearly specified and weighted with the precision one finds in an algebraic equation or set of related equations. General theories that would provide a complete account of the causes of war are less common than partial, or middle-range, theories that are more modest in the scope of what is to be explained or predicted. The word of theory is an abstract one.
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