Rational Choice Theory In Foreign Policy

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Rational choice theory argues by the maximization of utility- which means a state first identifies and priorities its foreign policy goals (short term or long term goals) and then identifies and select from the means available to it which fulfills its aims with the least cost. It suggests that states often prefer cooperation to conflict and that in fact they have already constructed a ‘society of states’ . Given the wide scope of problems and possibility that the term rationality invokes, four fundamental tensions will be sketched out- between procedure and substance, the individual and the collective, efficiency and democracy, normative and positive. This essay adopts the stance that the concept of rationality is only useful to a small extent…show more content…
Countries will then be able to identify and select a mean available to fulfill its aims with the least cost. Procedural rationality occurs when an actor engages in a systematic process, including reasoning, to enable him or her to achieve the goals that are already in mind. The focus here is to identify the best means by which any given value may be optimized. Substantive rationality by contrast tells us what is the ‘correct’ outcome, given specified goals. For instance, the ‘only’ rational path forward for Russia in its desperate economic conditions of 1998 was to throw itself on the mercy of the International Monetary Fund-other strategies would have been possible but they would have been irrational. However, the usefulness of the Procedure VS Substance rationality in foreign policy conduct is limited as the link between procedural and substantive rationality is that the formal is a necessary but not sufficient condition of achieving the latter. More importantly, proper information gathering and decisional procedures still have to be translated into action before a satisfactory outcome can be achieved. This often takes a long time and the reliability of the information also poses an issue. Therefore, the use of…show more content…
The root approach explains that decision making conceived of consisting of identification of means in conformity to the needs to obtain a particular end. This assumes a shared understanding of aims and values of what constitutes good foreign policy and ability to evaluate. However, this does not recognize that foreign policies decision issue, selection of means and end are taken simultaneously. At best, foreign policy decision-makers could be said to operate within the framework of the information available to them and make decision on that limited basis. Moreover, they are subjected to their own beliefs and prejudice, which limits their rationality when handling information. Hence, attempts at rational policy decisions may be misguided and even potentially dangerous for

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