Lecture 1 05/01/2013
24pm Monday LEA 534 are the office hours!
Contact info on syllabus.
4 weekly quizzes about 20 25 mins
one or 2 short essay question ▯ 1 paragraph!
Don’t need to memorize examples. Skim and read article then summarize article in one or two
sentences. If you cant then you didn’t understand. Think about the most important point in the article.
1 problem set ▯ he is not going to check answers and he will provide answers!
Those questions could come up in quiz or final! Do them!!
Research project: come up with a research proposal
Final exam is cumulative. Format is TBA. Watch out for readings with an asterisk ▯ useful for future work.
Focus on method in the readings ▯ how do they do things!
Findings and how they got to them important
He will guide us through readings!
We will be reading current McGill research, bit by bit! He will tell us when!
Slides most likely to be posted online.
Topic 1: The Scientific Method.
Be a skeptical reader and an informed consumer.
Requires that every knowledge claim be based upon systematic observation
Must be falsifiable
Normative statements are not valid in this school of thought
What do our senses tell us? Assumption that our senses give us the most accurate and reliable information.
This is problematic stance no? especially crosscultures! This stance gives us bias.
Systematic part helps guard against bias.
We take in all of the information out there.
It provides the essential safeguard against bias by requiring that our knowledge claims be:
Our research needs to be open to inspection
Other people can come along and understand what you did.
If people use the same data set etc. they should be able to come about to similar results.
Doesn’t really happen to much in political science.
Research funding is the key issue.
Perhaps a bias in political science.
We strive for intersubjectivity through objectivity.
We want people to call us out on our value judgment’s and preconceptions
Appealing to wider scientific community.
The goal of scientific method is explanation!
Identify relationships amongst phenomenon Trying to explain variation
Looking for a recurring pattern.
We are interested in how and why
Can it be generalized?
Assumption that political behavior falls into recurring patterns
If A then B most of the time.
We are cautious to use the language of causality
We do acknowledge that political behavior has its causes.
We work with human sciences ▯ we cant prove anything like we can in math.
Things can always be falsifiable in the future. This is a must.
The process of confirming (NOT PROVING) gives us more confidence in research.
Probabilistic: we can have confidence in a particular finding as it is true say 80 or 90% of the time. This
Valid to the extent it can withstand empirical testing!
Objectivity is NOT a characteristic of scientific method – this is because we never achieve objectivity in
our research ▯ because, value judgments are built into our research. Our value commitments distort our
Does this mean we should not research? NO
Leads to intersubjectivity. Which is good.
What are the hallmarks of scientific methods: Empiricism
The nature of scientific knowledge:
Never regarded as true or proven
Impossible to test all the possible empirical implications of our knowledge claims.
Must be testable and considered potentially falsifiable
Other people would say there is deep value in deep description
It doesn’t have to explain some huge phenomena – rather, there is value in informing us.
Science: body of knowledge.
Or perhaps another definition is a set of principles and rules that are used to come to a theory. Used to
guide our observations.
You will not find general laws in political science as you do in pure science.
Science in political science refers to scientific method.
The scientific methods vs. common sense
When using scientific method we: Make systematic observations and establish criteria of relevance.
We try to avoid over generalizing, try to be humble of what we find.
In daily life there is a tendency to prematurely generalize ▯ e.g. when you visit a foreign country and
you notice them doing something in a specific way ▯ you think that everybody there does it the same
Avoid selective observations by testing for alternatives
Address contradictory evidence by making additional observations
KKV ▯ unified logic of inference. ▯ is there one specific way to go about attaining knowledge? On pg.7
“we seek not dogma but disciplined thought” ▯ the accumulation of facts alone is insufficient (anti
Written in 1990s
To resolve the divide between qualitative and quantitative researchers
Qual: talk to people, read documents, understand motivations of people etc.
Divide exists to this day
Important book in Political science.
Good thing about the book is that it sparke