Research Project at the Centre
The Problem of Social Integration in International Politics
International relations scholars tend to agree that the international system encourages agents to misperceive others intentions and capabilities, and argue that this creates conflict. While misperceptions and incomplete information may contribute to conflict, they may also contribute to social order. If agents know the limits to their knowledge of others—they know they do not know the present or future intentions of others, and they know they have little basis for surmising the likely strategies others will pursue—the international system would become truly anarchic because the only way to anticipate what others will do is to use force to subdue them. Agents’ epistemic limits create the problem of social integration. Rather than focusing exclusively on threats to social stability caused by a lack of world government, we should broaden our attention to threats to stability caused by limitations of knowledge. The project suggests that IR theory should develop solutions to integration that make sense in the international context where interaction occurs between agents with different definitions of joint interactions. To explain integration, a theory of behavioral equilibrium will be developed that explains how actors develop accurate predictions of what others will do without common knowledge, norms, or intersubjectivity.