Journal of International Relations and Development

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 301–315

A response to Friedrich Kratochwil: why shooting the messenger does not make the bad news go away!

  • Colin Wight
Rejoinder to the debate on Friedrich Kratochwil's ‘Tartu lecture’

DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.jird.1800132

Cite this article as:
Wight, C. J Int Relat Dev (2007) 10: 301. doi:10.1057/palgrave.jird.1800132


In this short reply to Friedrich Kratochwil I respond to some of his criticisms of my interpretation of his ‘safe bet’ article published in this Journal. Two important issues seem to be at stake. First is the role that the real world plays in theory choice and second in whether material factors play any role in social explanations. I argue that the real world plays an irreducible role in theory choice and assessment, although it is not the only factor and it is certainly not determinate in the last instance. Second, I argue that material factors may play a role in some social explanations although when and how much I do not know. But although I do not think that they can be totally disregarded, it cannot be inferred that I believe that they play the only role or are determinant in the last instance. The article concentrates on demonstrating just how Kratochwils response exposes the weaknesses of his ‘safe bet’, while at the same time demonstrating how it relies on a realism that is essential to all communicative exchange, and indeed all social practice. Put simply, his theoretical treatment is not sustained in his practice.


epistemology ‘formal object’ ontology ‘real world’ scientific realism theory-choice 

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin Wight
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PoliticsUniversity of ExeterExeterUK

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