Rigor or Rigor Mortis?: Rational Choice and Security Studies (from International Security: Spring 1999, v. 23, no. 4)


The past decade has witnessed a growing controversy over the status of formal approaches in political science, and especially the growing prominence of formal rational choice theory. Rational choice models have been an accepted part of the academic study of politics since the 1950s, but their popularity has grown significantly in recent years. Elite academic departments are now expected to include game theorists and other formal modelers in order to be regarded as "up to date," graduate students increasingly view the use of formal rational choice models as a prerequisite for professional advancement, and research employing rational choice methods is becoming more widespread throughout the discipline. Is the increased prominence of formal rational choice theory necessary, inevitable, and desirable?


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