Rational Deterrence Theory and Comparative Case Studies

  title={Rational Deterrence Theory and Comparative Case Studies},
  author={Christopher H. Achen and Duncan Snidal},
  journal={World Politics},
  pages={143 - 169}
Several recent books have argued that comparative case studies of crises demonstrate the failure of rational-deterrence theory; they have offered certain empirical generalizations as substitutes. This paper shows that such contentions are unwarranted. First, the empirical generalizations are impressive as historical insights, but they do not meet the standards for theory set out by the most sophisticated case-study analysts themselves. Second, the “tests” of rational deterrence used in the case… 

Selection Effects and Deterrence

The empirical question of how often deterrent threats issued during international disputes succeed has been hotly debated for years, with some researchers arguing that virtually no robust cases of

A Unified Theory and Test of Extended Immediate Deterrence

We present a unified theory and test of extended immediate deterrence—unified in the sense that we employ our theoretical deterrence model as our statistical model in the empirical analysis. The

Deterrence theory: where do we stand?

Abstract Although deterrence theory was a central focus in the study of International Relations during the Cold War, attention has shifted away from deterrence since the end of that conflict.

Rational Deterrence Theory: I Think, Therefore I Deter

Deterrence theories purport to supply the auxiliary assumptions rational choice theories need to predict rational strategic behavior. They generally assume that would-be initiators are (i)

Rigor Mortis or Rigor, More Tests: Necessity, Sufficiency, and Deterrence Logic

The critique of rational deterrence constitutes one of the most comprehensive and sustained attacks on a “theory” in the field of international relations, a theory that many still believe is a sound,

Practicing Coercion

This article reevaluates the “crucial” evidence put forward by Lebow and Stein in what has become the most widely cited critique of rational deterrence theory and concludes that their data produce stronger support for the theory's core hypotheses than corresponding evidence compiled by proponents.

Theory and Test of Extended Immediate Deterrence

We present a uni ed theory and test of extended immediate deterrence | uni ed in the sense that we employ our theoretical deterrence model as our statistical model in the empirical analysis. The

DETERRENCE AND INTERNATIONAL CONFLICT: Empirical Findings and Theoretical Debates

▪ Abstract The utility of military threats as a means to deter international crises and war has been a central topic of international relations research. Rational choice models have provided the

Rationality and Deterrence in Theory and Practice

Deterrence theory has been held up by some scholars as one of the most important and profound intellectual innovations of twentieth-century international relations. As Christopher Achen and Duncan

A Cognitive Theory of Deterrence

Prospect theory is an empirical model of choice that stands as the leading alternative to rationality for explaining decisions under conditions of risk. While many still defend the assumption of



Deterrence Failures: A Second Look

I w h e n does deterrence fail to deter? Proponents of traditional deterrence theory would answer: since leaders considering a challenge to another country’s commitment are capable of reckoning the

Deterrence: A Conceptual Analysis

Newly revised in the light of the renewed debate of the last five years, this second edition of Patrick Morgan's book is a comprehensive review of the logic and the practice of deterrence. Morgan

Extended Deterrence by Superpower Alliance

Research in quantitative international politics and peace science is dominated by two puzzles and their corresponding research designs. (1) Why do some nations fight wars more often than others? (2)

On the Scientific Status of Rational Models

In recent years, rational models have taken on increasing prominence in disciplines outside of economics, particularly in political science. Yet, while most social scientists appear to agree on basic

What Makes Deterrence Work? Cases from 1900 to 1980

The article develops an expected-utility model of extended deterrence and tests it on 54 historical cases. Successful deterrence is associated with close economic and political ties between the

Richness, Rigor, and Relevance in the Study of Soviet Foreign Policy

A short time ago, a group of senior specialists in the study of Soviet foreign policy gathered to assess the state of their field, Though none disputed the view that “we know more now than we did a

Toward a Scientific Understanding of International Conflict: A Personal View

A scientific understanding of international conflict is best gained by explicit theorizing, whether verbal or mathematic, grounded in axiomatic logic, from which hypotheses with empirical referents

Comparative Politics and the Comparative Method

This paper is a systematic analysis of the comparative method, and it is argued that the case study method is closely related to theComparison method.

Perception and misperception in international politics

This study of perception and misperception in foreign policy was a landmark in the application of cognitive psychology to political decision making. The New York Times called it, in an article

A Return Journey: Richardson, “Frontiers” and Wars in The 1946–1965 Era

In the Statistics of Deadly Quarrels Lewis Richardson presents findings linking frontiers to war. His results constitute the basis for a number of discussions concerning continuity and war, diffusion