Is International Relations is a Science or an Arts?

International Relations is a Science or Arts

Whether international relations, is a science or an art is still open to great controversy. According to Quincy Wright, "International relations is an extremely difficult field for science to enter." Professor Organski, on the contrary, sees it as science.

There are indisputable ways in which a scientific approach to international relations has been proven and continues to be of great value, says Professor Organski. As a matter of fact, there are great doubts expressed by competent authorities about calling it science. However, to resolve this controversy we must ask what science is. This allows us to form an intelligent opinion on the subject.

The Meaning of Science

A science has been defined as a “branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truth systematically arranged and showing the operational or general law”. The chief characteristics of science are-

  • Predictions
  • An agreement on the method
  • Experimentation
  • Observation
  • Rationality


According to Garner, "a science can be defined as a fairly unified mass of knowledge on a particular subject obtained through systematic observation, experience or study of facts which are organized, organized and classified. have been done".


Those who believe that international relations is not a science believe that the subject does not fall under any definition of science. Like other physical sciences, its knowledge is not systematic and its results are not universal or uniform. Also, writers on international relations differ in both methods and conclusions. Also, like other physical sciences, its results cannot be tested. Predictions are not possible in international relations.


According to Quincy Wright, "the internal stability of most states and their external independence are diminishing as the world shrinks, making predictions based on political science progressively less reliable". Also, the claim of a science of international relations is rejected on the grounds that, like the physical sciences, it has laboratories and no objects for experiments. As a science, it falls short of the perfection achieved by the physical sciences.


International Relations as a Science

There are other writers who strongly feel that international relations is definitely a science. According to Organski "most serious writings in the field of international relations satisfy the need for a scientific approach". These writers and thinkers do not agree with the view that political science is not a laboratory and there is no experiment that can be done here. He also disagrees that the study of international relations is disorganized. On the other hand, they believe that this universe is a laboratory where experiments can be done. As many thinkers consider international relations as a science.


International Relations as an Art

There is still another group of thinkers who consider international relations to be an art. But before we establish our place in the arts, it is important to know the meaning of art. Art is defined as "the actual experience of the results of science." Art gives practical instructions for doing things in a certain way. Art, according to Quincy Wright, means, "the skillful and systematic adaptation of means to the attainment of an end". In international relations we see the art form because what we judge, study and conclude is put into practice. Diplomacy is the most characteristic of such arts. The art of war is second only to diplomacy in the practice of international relations.


In this controversy, much confusion has arisen. We have seen that in International Relations there are characteristics both of science and art. We cannot put it on the same footing as other physical sciences. However, we conclude with Prof. Organski that, “As a science, International Relations today is in its infancy. In its present stage it is less a science than a mixture of philosophy, history and art”.

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