Believing This and Alieving That: Theorizing Affect and Intuitions in International Politics

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Author: Marcus Holmes
Date: Dec. 2015
From: International Studies Quarterly(Vol. 59, Issue 4)
Publisher: Wiley Subscription Services, Inc.
Document Type: Report
Length: 337 words

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Abstract :

Byline: Marcus Holmes Rationalist models of decision making typically follow the general form of desire + belief = action. But determining an actor's beliefs and desires often proves challenging. One set of theories turns to psychology-and in particular emotions-to uncover how emotions help to shape and strengthen beliefs. Some of this work establishes a fit between emotions and the rationalist paradigm. It holds that emotions account for more than irrational behaviors; they also serve as a source of rational belief. Feeling, it claims, is believing. I argue that if actors belive in the reasonability of their feelings, then this move is warranted. But a range of behavior defies this logic. Instead, I suggest that actors often find themselves torn between contradictory affective intuitions, on the one hand, and rational beliefs, on the other. In consequence, they hold rational beliefs, but their resulting behavior qualifies as irrational. I apply existing work on the distinction between belief and alief to make sense of this phenomenon. I illustrate my claims through a rereading of the security dilemma-where irrational intuitions, in conjunction with rational beliefs, fuel conflict. Article Note: This article benefitted from feedback received at a number of seminars and conferences, including the ECPR Joint Sessions 2013 in Mainz, ISA 2013 in San Francisco, ISA 2014 in Toronto, and presentations at Fordham University in 2013 at the University of Southern California in 2014. In particular, I would like to thank Bentley Allan, Philip Arestis, Janice Bially-Mattern, Corneliu Bjola, Roland Bleiker, Mark Blyth, Zoltan Buzas, Jon Crystal, Annette Freyberg-Inan, Tamar Szabo Gendler, Ben Graham, Erin Graham, Naomi Head, Garrett Holmes, Emma Hutchison, Nicolas Jabko, Josh Kertzer, Sascha Lohmann, Jon Mercer, Jennifer Mitzen, Dale D. Murphy, Michal Onderco, Sue Peterson, Brian Rathbun, Andrew Ross, Elizabeth Saunders, Eric Schwitzgebel, Jaime Settle, Nick Tampio, Mike Tierney, David Traven, Alex Wendt, Nicholas Wheeler, Reinhard Wolf, Keren Yarhi-Milo, Dylan Young, the anonymous reviewers, and the ISQ editorial staff for constructive criticism and guidance. All errors and oversights remain my own. CAPTION(S): Appendix S1. Three alief illustrations

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A439973070