Garbage In, Garbage Out: Challenges of Model Building in Global History, A Military Historical Perspective
Keywords:Military History, The Military Revolution, The Rise of the West, The Great Divergence, The Revisionist Model
AbstractThis paper examines two prominent recent attempts to explain the phenomenon of the “rise of the West,” Ian Morris’s model of “Social Development” and Philipp Hoffman’s model of military power (Morris 2010, Morris 2013, Hoffman 2012, Hoffman 2015). Whereas most recent scholarship on the rise of the West has focused on economics, Morris and Hoffman widen the scope of comparison to other areas, in particular focusing on the measurement and explanation of divergences in military effectiveness. By drawing on recent work in China’s military history, the author shows that both models – but particularly that of Morris – are inadequate, falling back on older narratives of Western military superiority that have been challenged or disproven by recent scholarship in global military history. The article suggests, however, that the two models – and especially that of Hoffman – do raise significant new questions for future research, and it concludes by noting that what social scientists need more than new models at present is a closer attention to the rapid and ever increasing proliferation of scholarship in non-Western countries, and in particular that of the Sinophone world.
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