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
Cosmology and Change in International Orders
Natural Philosophy in Balance of Power Europe, 1550– 1815
Darwin, Social Knowledge, and Development in the British Colonial Office and the League of Nations, 1850– 1945
Neoclassical Economics and the Rise of Growth in the World Bank and Postwar International Order, 1945– 2015
Conclusion: The Future of Cosmological Change