Current Projects Here you can find an overview of current research activities of the Chair of International Relations. Diverting terror in its tracks: Behavioral experiments on moral judgments in battlefield trolley dilemmas James W. Davis & Rose McDermott (Brown University) Hypothetical trolley dilemmas are widely debated in moral philosophy. Judgments regarding the admissibility of sacrificing one life to save many depend on whether individuals apply principles derived from deontological or utilitarian ethics. The standard scenarios used to confront individuals with moral dilemmas, however, are unrealistic. Thus, many scholars question whether the insights they generate are useful for understanding how individuals think about moral decisions in real world settings. In response, behavioral researchers have begun to study trolley dilemmas in experimental and naturally occurring settings they believe to be more realistic or representative of situations likely to be confronted in everyday life (e.g. medical ethics or the design of autonomous vehicles). In this project, we extend the experimental study of trolley dilemmas to the field of international security by examining individuals’ moral judgments that occur in battlefield settings. The Return of Great Power War? The stability of the great power peace is at risk. Numerous trends are eroding each the pillars on which it rests. Because these processes are simultaneous and ongoing, they portend more than just erosion. Indeed, the possibility for catastrophic collapse is on the rise. This project identifies the conditions that gave rise to more than 70 years of great power peace and analyzes the forces that are eroding them with a view not only toward understanding current developments but also devising effective strategies to influence them. The Macrofoundations of Behavioral and Rational Choice Assumptions in International Relations Theories Behavioral IR is enjoying newfound popularity. Nonetheless, attempts to integrate behavioral research into the larger project of IR theory have proven controversial. Many scholars treat behavioral findings as a trove of plausible ad hoc modifications to rational choice models, thereby lending credence to arguments that behavioral IR is merely residual, empirical, and hence not theoretical. Others limit their research to cataloguing outcomes consistent with the basic tenets of behavioral models. This project is devoted to answering the question of when rational choice or behavioral assumptions should guide efforts to build IR theory by examining the various conditions under which actors reason. For more information on a specific project, please click on the project's title in the upper right menu.