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Lecture 1

POLSCI 1AB3 Lecture 1: Lecture 1.1 Science of Politics

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Political Science
Todd Alway

Monday, January 9, 2017 Lecture 1.1Science of Politics Is there such a thing as a scientific analysis of the political world? Can Political Science be scientific? How? The type of experimental method used in the natural sciences simply cannot be replicated for many of the questions that we have in the social sciences We can develop a hypothesis A statement that one or more variable(s) (independent variable(s)) will cause a particular outcome (dependent variable) x + y = z However, there is a problem with testing the hypothesis We cannot simply isolate and combine social variables (unlike the case for chemistry or physics) The variables we are interested in always exist in a larger social context that contains many many other simultaneously coexisting variables How can you be certain that x produced y when variables aw are also simultaneously present? Any one of the alternative variables, or perhaps some combination of the alternative variables, could be responsible for the outcome you are interested in understanding So if we are interested in developing a science of politics: How do we test our hypotheses? Some Options using single cases: a) Most likely b) Least likely case One model for conducting a scientific Political Science: Step one Hypothesis generation You need to start with an informed guess about what is causing the phenomenonevent you are interested in Where does this informed guess (hypothesis) come from? 1
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