Making Political Science Matter: Debating Knowledge, Research, and Method

By Sanford F. Schram; Brian Caterino | Go to book overview

Conundrums in the Practice of Pluralism

Peregrine Schwartz-Shea

Rather than “either-or,” we should develop a nondualis-
tic and pluralistic “both-and.” Hence, we should not crit-
icize rules, logic, signs, and rationality in themselves. We
should criticize only the dominance of these phenomena
to the exclusion of others in modern society and social
science.

—Bent Flyvbjerg (2001, 49, emphases added)

[I]f the knowledge-seeking project is always … a politi-
cal project, then it is in some important sense irreducibly
oppositional. … To assume that the one or the other
[approach] can or should simply accept the other is per-
haps to not take seriously enough what they both take
the political (=world-affecting) stakes to be.

—Elizabeth Wingrove (personal communication, 2001)

There has been much attention in recent years to increasing the plurality of knowledge approaches in political science. In contrast to the arguments of Kuhn (1970) and Lakatos (1970) that in a competition of approaches the “best” approach will and should win—producing a dominant paradigm and a “mature” discipline that practices normal science— Flyvbjerg (2001) and others (Dryzek 1986, 1990; Rule 1997) have argued that a plurality of approaches in the social sciences is desirable because such diversity provides societies with a full repertoire of possible

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