James D. Fearon PhD (UC Berkeley) and BA (Harvard University) is the Theodore and Francis Geballe Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Stanford University, known for his work on the theory of civil wars, international bargaining, war's inefficiency puzzle and audience costs.
Fearon's work on wars emphasizes the need to explain why rationally-led states end up fighting a war instead of bargaining, in light of the fact that bargaining can make both sides better off a priori. He also elaborates on how democracies are better able to signal intent in war based on domestic audience costs. Fearon has also contributed to the study of deliberative democracy. Fearon has three basic assumptions about war. First, war is a more costly choice than peace. Second, war is predictably unpredictable. In other words, although neither side may be sure exactly who will win, they can agree on the relatively likelihood each will win. And third, there are no direct benefits from fighting; Fearon calls these pieces war's inefficiency puzzle.
Fearon was identified by constructivist scholar Marc Lynch as the "leading rationalist" in international relations theory and credited him with resolving (along with constructivist Alexander Wendt) much of the theoretical debate between the two camps.
Since 2011, Fearon has been a member of the board of the Peace Research Endowment.
Notes and references
- Elster, Jon (editor) (1998). "(see intro by Jon Elster and chpt 2 by Fearon)". Deliberative Democracy (Cambridge Studies in the Theory of Democracy). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-59696-3.
- Lynch, Marc (July 25, 2007). "Abu Aardvark: IR: Constructivism v Rationalism". Abu Aardvark. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
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