The first hypothesis advanced in this volume is that epidemic disease may function as a stressor variable to compromise the prosperity, the legitimacy, the structural cohesion, and in certain cases the security of sovereign states. Further, disease may exacerbate pre-existing domestic conflicts between ethnicities, and/or classes and may generate intra-societal and intra-state violence, and the resulting societal discord may generate punitive and draconian responses by the state against the people as it seeks to maintain order. Thus, disease often functions to destabilize the coherence, the power, and (perhaps) the security of the state.
The second hypothesis is that epidemic and pandemic manifestations of novel pathogens may promote economic and political discord between countries, although contagion is not likely to generate significant armed conflict between sovereign states.
The third hypothesis is that only some of the documented infectious pathogens threaten national security, and that criteria based on lethality, transmissibility, fear, and economic damage will illuminate which pathogens are security threats and which are not.
The fourth hypothesis is that the practices of warfare (both intra-state and inter-state) will generate "war pestilences," contributing to the proliferation of infectious disease within the ranks of the combatants and subsequently to proximate civilian populations. Thus, conflict amplifies the burden of disease.
The fifth hypothesis is that the paradigm of "health security" is philosophically grounded in the political tradition of republican theory, a theoretical antecedent to both Realism and Liberalism; that the association between the health of the population and perceptions of national security is ancient but largely forgotten; and that a republican revision of systems-level international relations theory (with elements of political psychology) provides an optimal theoretical framework for pursuing such inquiries.
The biologist E. O. Wilson bemoaned the "fragmentation of knowledge" and argued that the solutions to the complex collective action problems of the modern age lay in interdisciplinary knowledge and its practical application. This volume is explicitly a consilient,8 or interdisciplinary, exploration of the relationship among infectious disease, governance, and prosperity within affected polities, and between countries. The material presented herein is admittedly an eclectic synthesis of political science, history, biology, demography, economics, psychology, sociology, ecology, physics, and public health. The hope is that such a work may appeal to a broad audience and encourage new avenues of thought and investigation across the disciplines, bridging the epistemic schisms that have deepened over the decades as a result of disciplinary specialization.
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