Scientific Cosmology and International Orders shows how scientific ideas have transformed international politics since 1550. I argue that cosmological concepts arising from Western science made possible the shift from a sixteenth-century order premised upon divine providence to the present order, which is premised on economic growth. As states and other international associations used scientific ideas to solve problems, they slowly reconfigured ideas about how the world works, humanity’s place in the universe, and the meaning of progress.

The book demonstrates the rise of scientific ideas across three cases: natural philosophy in balance of power politics, 1550–1815; geology and Darwinism in British colonial policy and the liberal-colonial order, 1860–1950; and cybernetic-systems thinking and economics in the World Bank and American liberal order, 1945–2015. Together, the cases trace the emergence of economic growth as a central end of states to its origins in colonial doctrines of development and balance of power thinking.


Table of Contents

  1. Introduction: Science and the Transformation of International Politics

  2. Cosmology and Change in International Orders

  3. Natural Philosophy in Balance of Power Europe, 1550– 1815

  4. Darwin, Social Knowledge, and Development in the British Colonial Office and the League of Nations, 1850– 1945

  5. Neoclassical Economics and the Rise of Growth in the World Bank and Postwar International Order, 1945– 2015

  6.  Conclusion: The Future of Cosmological Change



Order from Cambridge (you can now, finally, pre-order the paperback).

You can read the introductory chapter here in manuscript format.

You can read a 10-page excerpt from the final version here.