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Paul Thagard

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190678722

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190678722.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 22 January 2022

History and International Relations

History and International Relations


(p.228) 9 History and International Relations

Paul Thagard

Oxford University Press

Historical explanation and the understanding of international relations can be enhanced by applying detailed psychological, neural, and social mechanisms to real-world events. By applying the method of social cognitive-emotional workups to the origins of World War I, this chapter shows the relevance of an integrated account of beliefs, concepts, values, rules, analogies, metaphors, emotions, inferences, and communication. The result transcends the limitations of purely narrative explanations in history and provides insight into why the field of international relations has lacked a satisfactory general theory. Explaining social changes in both groups and individuals requires understanding the communicative interactions of cognitive-emotional minds; the result is mechanistic-narrative explanation. Dealing with complex historical developments such as the outbreak of wars requires solution of the person–group problem.

Keywords:   historical explanation, group, history, international relations, irrationality, leader, nation, nationalism, person–group problem, power

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