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POLI SCI 3N06 Lecture 2.docx

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Political Science
Todd Alway

Lecture 2 Ask questions, that have not been asked before- literary review Political Science 3N06 2013 Lecture 2a: What is the social world made of and how can we know it?  Political research, no matter how specific, parochial, and mundane, always starts with assumed answers to big-picture questions  bigger than political science  we always have implicit answers, but we might not be aware of what they are Ontology:- being; what is the nature of reality  What is the world/social world made of?  A) Foundationalist o There is an objective world “out there” that is what it is regardless of how we perceive it  essential characteristics like the difference between men and women  B) Anti-foundationalist o Reality is socially constructed and therefore socially variant o no objective and semi permanent o look at the social world, a product of our mind o the world is at a constant flux Epistemology:  What can we know about the world, regardless of what it is ultimately made up of?  have to ask the question regardless of what the world is made of  how can we know the world given the fact we are social creatures Methodology:  How do we gather knowledge about the world  What techniques can we use to access true knowledge Positivism (the list is a bit of a simplification of a complex philosophy of knowledge, but…): default model; hegemonic for the united states  Naturalism: There can be only one: o The social world is analogous to the natural world o It is patterned, and governed by laws in the same essential way o Consequently, the social world can be studied and understood using the same techniques as in the natural sciences o Physical science (physics), Animal science (biology), Human science (social science): “All sciences share a common set of principles and logic” o see regularity o see laws  finding social facts  essentially things that are  capitalism is a structure that forces one and compels the individual o the social world has patterns  epistemological  see it in a natural perspective  use of the sciences  social world- patterned  explain phenomenon is the social and natural world, to help us predict and explain  Nomothetic analysis o Nomothetic analysis is oriented towards uncovering general laws  Whether the laws governing chemistry  Or those governing human behaviour o Laws that hold across time and space o Uncovering cause-effect relationships will allow us to explain and predict behaviour in the social world Facts and Values are (in principle) Separable  Scientific knowledge is (and must be) value free  find patterns identify laws, and pracitce  Distance, objective, dispassionate, neutral – these are the watchwords  We can find objective facts about the world based on a combination of: o I) Empirical observation (Classical Positivism) o We can observe the world as it really is  In the sense that what you see is what actually is  idea of empirical observation  see what’s happening, record, look at the patterns and explain them  General laws are discovered by observing empirical facts and then uncovering the regularities and patterns amongst those facts (induction) o II) Logic (Logical Positivism) o Start with a theory and see whether the empirical evidence supports it (deduction) o If the evidence supports the theory, the theory is verified o like 2+2=4 In Political Science:  During the 1950s and 1960s the so-called behavioural revolution began to exercise intellectual hegemony over Political Science, particularly in the US  look at how much liberty we should have  cannot define definitively  descriptive but not explanatory  engage
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