January Duke Political Science Publications

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Bagg, Samuel. "When will a Darwinian approach be useful for the study of society?" Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, Available at Sage Journals

In recent years, some have claimed that a Darwinian perspective will revolutionize the study of human society and culture. This project is viewed with disdain and suspicion, on the other hand, by many practicing social scientists. This article seeks to clear the air in this heated debate by dissociating two claims that are too often assumed to be inseparable. The first is the ‘ontological’ claim that Darwinian principles apply, at some level of abstraction, to human society and culture. The second is the more ‘pragmatic’ claim that this observation necessitates substantial changes in the practices of social scientists. Even if some version of the first claim is true, I argue – which I believe is quite likely – the second does not follow. This observation ought to chasten the most overzealous advocates of Darwinian social science, as well as softening the instinctive resistance of many social scientists and historians to the genuine insights enabled by a Darwinian approach. The conclusion discusses these insights, the most important of which is a methodological prescription for normative theory.

Feaver, Peter.  "Resign in Protest? A Cure Worse Than Most Diseases" Available at SAGE Publications

Advocates of cultivating a resignation-in-protest ethic understate the costs and exaggerate the benefits. Military officers who believe that the policymaking process is heading in a bad direction already have ample recourse in the form of advising within the chain of command. If their advice is not heeded, it is exceedingly unlikely that the country would be better served by senior officers provoking a civil–military crisis to advertise their policy differences with civilian leaders. 

Brands, Hal and Peter Feaver.  2017. “Stress-Testing American Grand Strategy,” Survival, 58, No. 6. Available at Taylor & Francis Online

​The 2016 presidential campaign, and its ultimate outcome, raised sharper questions about the fundamental nature and purpose of the United States' grand strategy than at any time in a generation. In doing so, the campaign also served as a reminder of the critical role of assumptions in shaping US statecraft. In the grand-strategic context, assumptions are the ingrained, overarching ideas that US officials have about how the world works, and about America’s role within the global arena. Simply put, such assumptions represent the intellectual foundation upon which American statecraft rests. If the foundation is solid, then American strategy has a decent chance of success. If the foundation is shaky, American strategy is likely in for a world of trouble.

Becker, Jordan M. and Malesky, Edmund J., "The Continent or the 'Grand Large?' Strategic Culture and Operational Burden Sharing in NATO" (Revised, November 24, 2016). Available at SSRN 

Policy discussions on transatlantic security frequently focus on the topic of burden sharing, highlighting the imbalance between U.S. and European military expenditures. Alliance scholarship in the fields of international security and political economy offers plausible explanations for this imbalance, based on the perspectives of balance of threat, institutional adaptation, security communities, and collective action. We argue that the more states articulate their national security strategy in Atlanticist terms, the more likely they are to allocate resources to military operations. We find evidence for this argument by using a content analysis of 95 national security strategy documents of NATO allies, and assessing the correlation between Atlanticist language in states’ strategy documents and those states’ allocation of financial resources to military operations, as opposed to personnel, infrastructure, or equipment expenditures.