Theorizing Unpredictability in International Politics : A New Approach to Trump and the Trump Doctrine. / Lerner, Adam B.

In: Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 05.11.2020.

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Theorizing Unpredictability in International Politics : A New Approach to Trump and the Trump Doctrine. / Lerner, Adam B.

In: Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 05.11.2020.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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@article{e8196392015648c3be18a645af145a2d,
title = "Theorizing Unpredictability in International Politics: A New Approach to Trump and the Trump Doctrine",
abstract = "On the campaign trail, then-candidate Donald Trump expressed a desire to pioneer an unpredictable US foreign policy that would both deceive opponents and disrupt the status quo. Academic and media commentators readily labelled this Trump{\textquoteright}s {\textquoteleft}Unpredictability Doctrine{\textquoteright} and have since debated its merits and demerits. Beyond inevitable partisan divides, however, these responses also revealed enormous disagreement over conceptualizations of unpredictability and its impacts, raising fundamental questions for the IR discipline and the foreign policy analysis it informs. What are the ontological and epistemological roots of unpredictability in international politics? How can scholars simultaneously grapple with the conundrums posed by erratic actors and the larger, everchanging systems they shape? This article unravels the philosophy of science (PoS) issues inherent in theorizing unpredictability, offering a novel, synthesized typology. Recognizing that PoS assumptions both frame accounts of unpredictability and represent a source of uncertainty, this article instead advocates epistemological humility, offering a new typology that transcends assumptions and facilitates dialogue between camps. This typology includes three {\textquoteleft}buckets{\textquoteright} of unpredictability—risk, uncertainty and complexity—that can be interpreted according to varying philosophy of science traditions. When applied empirically, this terminology helps contextualize analysis and expose oftentimes overlooked contours of US foreign policymaking.",
keywords = "Foreign Policy, Unpredictability, Philosophy of Social Science, Donald Trump, United States",
author = "Lerner, {Adam B.}",
year = "2020",
month = nov,
day = "5",
doi = "10.1080/09557571.2020.1842329",
language = "English",
journal = "Cambridge Review of International Affairs",
issn = "0955-7571",
publisher = "Routledge",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Theorizing Unpredictability in International Politics

T2 - A New Approach to Trump and the Trump Doctrine

AU - Lerner, Adam B.

PY - 2020/11/5

Y1 - 2020/11/5

N2 - On the campaign trail, then-candidate Donald Trump expressed a desire to pioneer an unpredictable US foreign policy that would both deceive opponents and disrupt the status quo. Academic and media commentators readily labelled this Trump’s ‘Unpredictability Doctrine’ and have since debated its merits and demerits. Beyond inevitable partisan divides, however, these responses also revealed enormous disagreement over conceptualizations of unpredictability and its impacts, raising fundamental questions for the IR discipline and the foreign policy analysis it informs. What are the ontological and epistemological roots of unpredictability in international politics? How can scholars simultaneously grapple with the conundrums posed by erratic actors and the larger, everchanging systems they shape? This article unravels the philosophy of science (PoS) issues inherent in theorizing unpredictability, offering a novel, synthesized typology. Recognizing that PoS assumptions both frame accounts of unpredictability and represent a source of uncertainty, this article instead advocates epistemological humility, offering a new typology that transcends assumptions and facilitates dialogue between camps. This typology includes three ‘buckets’ of unpredictability—risk, uncertainty and complexity—that can be interpreted according to varying philosophy of science traditions. When applied empirically, this terminology helps contextualize analysis and expose oftentimes overlooked contours of US foreign policymaking.

AB - On the campaign trail, then-candidate Donald Trump expressed a desire to pioneer an unpredictable US foreign policy that would both deceive opponents and disrupt the status quo. Academic and media commentators readily labelled this Trump’s ‘Unpredictability Doctrine’ and have since debated its merits and demerits. Beyond inevitable partisan divides, however, these responses also revealed enormous disagreement over conceptualizations of unpredictability and its impacts, raising fundamental questions for the IR discipline and the foreign policy analysis it informs. What are the ontological and epistemological roots of unpredictability in international politics? How can scholars simultaneously grapple with the conundrums posed by erratic actors and the larger, everchanging systems they shape? This article unravels the philosophy of science (PoS) issues inherent in theorizing unpredictability, offering a novel, synthesized typology. Recognizing that PoS assumptions both frame accounts of unpredictability and represent a source of uncertainty, this article instead advocates epistemological humility, offering a new typology that transcends assumptions and facilitates dialogue between camps. This typology includes three ‘buckets’ of unpredictability—risk, uncertainty and complexity—that can be interpreted according to varying philosophy of science traditions. When applied empirically, this terminology helps contextualize analysis and expose oftentimes overlooked contours of US foreign policymaking.

KW - Foreign Policy

KW - Unpredictability

KW - Philosophy of Social Science

KW - Donald Trump

KW - United States

U2 - 10.1080/09557571.2020.1842329

DO - 10.1080/09557571.2020.1842329

M3 - Article

JO - Cambridge Review of International Affairs

JF - Cambridge Review of International Affairs

SN - 0955-7571

ER -