The Myths of Fear in Realism
: Morgenthau, Waltz and Mearsheimer Reconsidered

  • Arash Heydarian Pashakhanlou

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Critics and proponents of realism unanimously proclaim that fear is conceptually, theoretically and logically essential to the realist school of thought. In this dissertation, these propositions are tested by examining the importance of this primary emotion in the classical realism of Hans Morgenthau, the defensive realism of Kenneth Waltz and the offensive realism of John Mearsheimer. The findings indicate that fear is not conceptually or theoretically significant to either Morgenthau or Waltz. Logically, the inclusion of this emotion is not only redundant but counterproductive in all of the examined theories, especially in that of Mearsheimer. This being so, even though the level of fear is afforded a central conceptual and theoretical role in his offensive realism. As such, this thesis challenges the conventional wisdom in the literature regarding the relationship between realism and fear and exposes the myths that pervades the field on this issue.
Date of Award4 Nov 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorDavid Galbreath (Supervisor) & Adrian Hyde-Price (Supervisor)

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