The assumptions of each of the schools are found in prior judgments that are part of the system of thought or belief system that the philosophies operate through in foreign policy. For example, the Realist school can be seen as an empirical and materialist philosophy, in that it focuses on specific gains that can be measured, planned for, and rationally studied to determine the extent of accomplishment. The Realist school projects the self-interest of the individual in a macro-framework as the State, and in this manner favors the centralization of power in one individual, as in a monarchy, dictatorship, prime minister, or president.
The Realist school bases its definition of the State on the centralization of power, as this authority in military, finance, and legal statutes are assumed to be able to be mobilized upon a common policy of the government in international relationships that attain concrete goals. As the Realist school is based on a type of calculation in power relations with objectives established in advanced and accomplished through strategic planning, it enables the development of International Relations as a formal discipline, similar to economics and law.
The Liberal school generally accepts the a priori judgment of the Realists but seeks to reform it on the principles of Humanism. In theory, where the Realists trace their lineage back to Machiavelli, Hobbes, Adam Smith, and Hume, the Liberal school looks to Rousseau as the exemplary and archetype of progressive philosophy applied in a humanistic manner for the purpose of freedom and human liberation. In this regard, while the Realist school may have no moral objection to enslave, coerce, or dominate a local population if it furthered the aims of the State as defined by those in power, the Liberal school would object to this on humanistic principles as degrading, unjust, and against the social welfare.
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