The Cost of Quantizing: Exploring the Stakes and Scope of Quantum International Relations

Title: The Cost of Quantizing: Exploring the Stakes and Scope of Quantum International Relations
Authors: Murphy, Michael P.A.
Date: 2022-06-13
Embargo: 2024-06-13
Abstract: Quantum approaches to International Relations theory have proliferated rapidly in recent years, challenging the field to come to terms with the influence of physics at its philosophical foundations. These new theoretical perspectives draw on quantum physics, quantum social theory, and prior quantum interventions in other disciplines of social science. But unlike prior debates around the desirability of "adding" science to the study of world politics (Morgenthau 1946; Kindleberger 1958; Bull 1966), the call of quantum IR theory is one for transformation (Barad 2007; Fierke 2022; Murphy 2021c; O’Brien 2021; Zanotti 2018). In this dissertation, I explore the stakes and scope of this quantum transformation to better understand the process of quantizing inquiry into International Relations. The first chapter sets out the metatheoretical stakes of quantizing IR by engaging with critical responses to prior works of quantum. Situating quantum approaches in the broader intellectual history of the field, I argue that understanding the "cost" of quantizing IR cannot take the form of a cost/benefit logic, instead recognizing the opportunity cost of remaining Newtonian. The second chapter turns to the development of quantum mechanics within physics to demonstrate the relatability of key concepts for social inquiry, despite the vernacular divide. The third chapter turns to methodology, discussing the philosophical sources supporting 'quantizing through translation,' drawing on both the quantum social theory of Karen Barad and broader influences including Walter Benjamin, actor-network theory, and Donna Haraway. The next trio of chapters serve to demonstrate the breadth of quantum's utility across the discipline through a set of conceptual case studies related to major subfields of IR. The fourth chapter speaks to debates in peace and security studies, and provides a quantized account of violence through a diffractive reading of Johan Galtung's "Violence, Peace, and Peace Research." The fifth chapter turns to foreign policy and strategic studies, arguing that the non-traditional diplomatic strategy of "track two diplomacy" abides a quantum game-theoretic logic, and that this can only be fully appreciated by interrogating its quantum-like assumptions. Chapter six then addresses international political economy through an attempt to redefine "the market" in quantum terms. Recognizing the stakes and scope of quantum IR explored through the dissertation, the conclusion reaffirms the case for quantum to be understood as transformation rather than addition, and sets out future directions for research in quantum IR.
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