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Lecture 1 and 2 notes

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Political Science
Lilach Gilady

Lectures 1 and 2: Introduction This lecture introduced students to key concepts related to theoretical thinking in the social sciences: - Definition of a Theory: description, explanation, prediction - Deduction versus Induction - The importance of causal mechanisms (to avoid the dangers of spurious correlation) (how/why golfing leads to peace?) - Testing a theory and the importance of falsification as a basis for theoretical refinement and progress - The role of models LEVELS OF ANALYSIS: - A way of organizing and simplifying data to gain explanatory power. - Counterfactuals: a thought experiment. We need to ask, if it weren’t for this variable, would the outcome change???? - The decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima as an example INDIVIDUAL level: - Can an individual change history? If we took this person out of history would we get the same outcome? - Personality, education, past experiences, ideology, beliefs. These are the types of explanations we find in the individual level. ROLE OF DECISION MAKERS: - We think here about roles instead of people. We think about bureaucracy - We map the interest of the actors, their information flows, like an organization. We look at the decision making apparatus and procedures. - If you changed the structure of decision making, would it affect the outcome? GOVERNMENTAL STRUCTURE - In IR we mainly focus on regime type (democracy, autocracy, presidential democracy parliamentary democracies, etc): in democracy vs. autocracy would they behave differently. - What kind of incentives and constraints a decision maker may have in a democratic vs. an autocratic regime? We try to explain the outcome, pattern of behavior based on the constraints built in by the type of governments involved. - If you were to change the structure of the government would it lead to a different outcome? SOCIETY: - Together with government structure, we have a level of analysis that is often referred to as the ‘STATE’. - We are looking at variables like size of country, poverty, structure of economy (communist, etc), geography, culture, history, things that are unique to a society. INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: - Interaction between actors. The relationship between actors is the one that has led to the outcome. Dyadic analysis. - We can look at past experience between countries, how similar they are, are they near
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