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"Rigor or Rigor Mortis? Rational Choice and Security Studies"

"Rigor or Rigor Mortis? Rational Choice and Security Studies"

Journal Article, International Security, volume 23, issue 4, pages 5-48

Spring 1999

Author: Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs; Faculty Chair, International Security Program

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security; Quarterly Journal: International Security



In recent years rational choice theory has experienced a surge in popularity among political scientists. Its usefulness, however, remains highly controversial. In our lead article, Stephen Walt of the University of Chicago argues that the outcome of this debate will have deep and long-lasting consequences for scholarly discourse. Given that the stakes are so high, Walt contends that if rational choice theory is to achieve general acceptance, it must be "precise, logically consistent, original, and empirically valid." Applying these criteria to several prominent formal theory works in security studies, Walt concludes that in general rational choice methods fail to offer new insights into the study of security issues.


For more information about this publication please contact the IS Editorial Assistant at 617-495-1914.

For Academic Citation:

Stephen M. Walt. "Rigor or Rigor Mortis? Rational Choice and Security Studies." International Security 23, no. 4 (Spring 1999): 5-48.

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