Lecture 2 05/02/2013
Starting with Topic 2B (continuation from last lecture) and Topic 3.
Topic 2B: Theories
May 24 optional class to use SPSS which is specialized statistics software. Go?
In order to have empirical imports, concepts must: be linked to something observable
Systematic and theoretical import are the same.
Tie concepts together by stating relationships between them.
Building blocks of theories
Will consist of empirical generalizations (inductively) or propositions (deductively).
Consist of a set of propositions that are logically related
Explain political phenomena
Theories narrow the range of behavior that is explained but it is never all encompassing. Something is
How many exceptions to the rule can be allowed before we need to reevaluate our theories?
Inductive Model: Starts with a set of observations and searches for recurring regularities in the way that phenomena are
related to one another ▯ this is how we operate in our day to day lives. Empirical generalization. Bottom
Starts with a series of axioms and used logic to derive propositions about how and why phenomena are
related to one another. Usually used in sciences. Top ▯ down. Not really used in political science.
Deductive theory Building:
A process of moving from abstract statements about general relationships to concrete statements about
Axiom ▯ proposition ▯ Hypothesis. (see slide 21 topic 2)
Inductive theory building:
A process of observations about recurring regularities in the way that phenomena are related to one
Observations ▯ Empirical Generalization ▯ Hypothesis
When we use induction to develop a theory we have to: Assume causality ▯ theory of determinism. A
will cause B.
Five criteria for evaluating competing theories
Simplicity (or parsimony) — a simple theory has a higher degree of falsifiability because there are
fewer restrictions on the conditions under which it is expected to hold. When you theory becomes open
to inspection and holds up, only then will confidence in your theory increase.
Internal consistency (logical soundness) — it should not be possible to derive contradictory
implications from the same theory. Must be logical.
Testability — we should be able to derive expectations about reality that are concrete and specific
enough for us to be able to make observations and determine whether the expectations are supported.
Similar to a theory should be communicable.
Predictive accuracy — the expectations derived from the theory should be confirmed. Theories
have to work.
Generality — the theory should allow us to explain a variety of political phenomena across time and
Why is there inevitably tension among these five criteria?
Three functions of theories:
Explanation: explain political phenomenon by showing how and why they are related to other
Organization of knowledge: explain phenomena that cannot be explained by existing generalizations
Derivation of new hypothesis: Enable us to predict phenomena beyond those that motivated the
creation of the theory
Topic 3: Variables and Hypothesis.
A theory must not always include axioms.
What is a variable: