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What Is Political Science?

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Western University
Political Science
Political Science 1020E
Charles Jones

May 13, 2008 What is Political Science? Polis • Greek word meaning city • In the original sense, “politics” concerned the major affairs of the city Aristotle (4 Century BC) • Political science involved two major dimensions: 1. The study of affairs of the various city-states and the differences between them 2. The moral dimension to social life o Politics about finding the best way to organize a city in order to achieve the good life o Included understanding proper ethical living, since this is related to organized city life • In ancient Greek view, “political science” included what is now political studies, sociology, anthropology, psychology and ethical studies The Modern Meaning of Politics What is Politics? • “Politics is about who gets what, when, and how” – H. Lasswell o Definition is interesting, but it can also describe the workings of a purely free market economy • “Politics is the authoritative allocation of values in society” – D. Easton “Politics is the activity of conflict resolution in which support is mobilized for collective projects” – B. Jouvenel o These definitions are better because they describe politics as something intimately connected with the idea of power and conflict – those who have political power make the decisions that affect individuals and hopefully solve conflicts o Usually discussing territorial politics (according to geography) Modern Political S
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