Progress and its problems in the study of war

  • Gustaaf Geeraerst orcid logo


Although the knowledge of war and international conflict has definitely increased, we do not as yet have much insight into why and how wars come about, and especially how war as a certain and comparably rare form of conflict regulation is connected to conflict behavior at lower levels of intensity as military disputes and international conflict behavior in general. Theoretical progress in the study of war demands a significant effort at the level of basic research. It is imperative to spend more energy at the rigorous deduction of testable propositions from general explanatory principles or mechanisms. For the success of such an endeavour it is essential to adopt both a dynamic and systems-theoretic perspective. This implies a vision of war as a certain and one of possible phases in the international political process, concurrently with other injurious
forms of interaction as serious disputes and low level conflict behavior, but also supportive behavior like trade and cooperation. Yet, if we are to analyze and understand the war phenomenon from this perspective, clearly more formalized approaches and techniques are imperative.

How to Cite:

Geeraerst, G., (1991) “Progress and its problems in the study of war”, Res Publica 33(2), 327-343. doi:

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Published on
29 Jun 1991
Peer Reviewed