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The Tragedy of the Tragedy : A Critical Realist Critique of Mearsheimer’s Offensive Realism

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Title: The Tragedy of the Tragedy : A Critical Realist Critique of Mearsheimer’s Offensive Realism
Author(s): Hadi, Mohammed S.
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences
Degree program: Master's Programme in Politics, Media and Communication
Specialisation: World Politics
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2022
The U.S.-China relation is said to be the “most important bilateral relationship of the 21st century.” Therefore, many theoretical frameworks have been developed and devoted to the framing, exploration, and prediction of the evolution of U.S.-Chinese relations. Among these, offensive realism remains as one of the most eminent theoretical frameworks that have attempted to offer some predictions regarding the future of the bilateral relation between the United States and China. Offensive realism, a broadly debated controversial theory of international relations that has recently gained even further controversy due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, argues for a tragic outcome of the interaction between these two great powers. These predictions, moreover, are built upon a certain implicit ontology that affects the way in which the world is conceived and interpreted. The purpose of this thesis, thus, is to explicate this ontology, arguing for its inadequacy and problematic implications. This thesis, in other words, seeks to demonstrate how implicit, uncritically adopted ontologies can affect: the way in which the world is comprehended, the purpose of our scientific explanations, and the impact of this on the potential sustainment of certain social structures, relations, and practices. In order to fulfill this purpose, critical realism is used to conduct the critical evaluation of the implicit ontology embedded within Mearsheimer’s offensive realism. Critical realism is a philosophy of science perspective that offers important insights into the nature of the social world. Thus, the main questions that guide this thesis (What kind of ontology does Mearsheimer implicitly use in his theory of offensive realism? What impacts does the ontological position that Mearsheimer adopts have on the manner in which the world is understood and the way in which it concretely evolves?) are answered with the help of a critical realist framework.
Keyword(s): Critical Realism Offensive Realsim IR Theory

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