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The Study of Democratic Peace and Progress in International Relations


  • 1Thanks are due James Lee Ray, Bruce Russett, and John Vasquez for their illuminating comments on and criticisms of earlier drafts of this paper and to Claire Putzeys and Emily Weedon for valuable research assistance.


This essay argues that the field of international relations has exhibited “progress” of the sort found in the natural sciences. Several well-known accounts of “science” and “progress” are adumbrated; four offer positive accounts of progress (those of Peirce, Duhem, Popper, and Lakatos) and one evidences a negative assessment (Kuhn). Recent studies of the democratic peace—both supporting and opposing—are analyzed to show that they satisfy the terms of each of the definitions of scientific progress.

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