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Critical Review: Bradley A. Thayer, Bring In Darwin: Evolutionary Theory, Realism, And International Relations

1203 words - 5 pages

In Thayer’s article, he makes an attempt to incorporate Darwin’s Evolutionary Theory into the international security studies. The article tries to answer a central question that what are the implications of Evolutionary theory to realist theory of international security and in what way can peace be achieved if warfare is part of human nature? This paper agrees with Thayer that Evolutionary theory provides a scientific theory foundation for realism and is an ultimate cause for war and ethnic conflicts, as well as the assumption that origin of war is intrinsic in human nature as part of their evolution history. This paper will also suggest that a balanced structure of the world could contribute to temporary peace. But it need to be noted that the theory is also limited since Evolution theory could not fully explain many other forms of security problems like civil wars and terrorism. To review Thayer’s article, first, the paper will briefly explain how Evolutionary theory act as an ultimate cause for realist theory in terms of two human traits: egoism and domination. Following that, the paper will discuss the implications of Evolutionary theory to international relations. This paper will also evaluate the theory by comparing it with Waltz’s and Gleditsch’s theory on peace and war. Finally, it will conclude the paper by summarizing main points.
Thayer seeks to understand Evolutionary theory as the ultimate cause of realism. In Evolutionary theory, humans like other animals have to evolve to survive and reproduce from natural selection, which develops two basic human traits: egoism and dominance (Thayer, 2000, p.130). In order to survive and for fitness, an organism tends to places its security over the others and according to Evolutionary theorists, the selfishness is rooted in our gene as well (Thayer, 2000, p.132). Evolutionary theory also recognizes a “dominance hierarchy” in any forms of social organizations which contributes to the fitness of the species as well (ibid.) “Dominance hierarchy” suggests a social structure that particular individuals holds dominant power in a social group while others being submissive in which the tribe avoids conflicts (Thayer, 2000, p. 133). Therefore, the struggle for survival is a struggle between the privileged and those who trying to subvert them (Thayer, 2000, p.135). Evolutionary theory advances other metaphysical theories in realism because it is falsifiable, scientific as widely accepted and it is not dependent on the anarchic international system (Thayer, 2000, p.138).
Furthermore, Thayer indicates that Evolutionary theory provides three explanations to war: First, war happens in other species as well; second, increasing fitness and group selection are also the reasons for warfare; third, war plays a role in creating human society (Thayer, 2000, p. 140). Early warfare in human history for protection or balancing power has developed human society. On the other hand, he interprets ethnical conflicts in...

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