Political Science: A Philosophical Analysis

By Vernon Van Dyke | Go to book overview

Introduction

Parts I and II concerned purposes in the study of politics and the forms in which knowledge is expressed. Now the object is to identify, clarify, and appraise various approaches used in the study of politics and to give briefer attention to the notions of method and technique.

Like so many of the terms that we have examined, approach, method, and technique are assigned various meanings--or are employed with only the remotest suggestion of the meaning intended. Even such an admirable book as Approaches to the Study of Politics contains nothing--at least nothing explicit-to indicate what characteristics of the contents led to the use of the word approaches in the title.1 Five of the seven chapter headings in another book focus on approaches, identified as deductive, descriptive, quantitative, sociological and psychological, and practical; but again there is no definition of the word approach, no apparent reason why there should not also have been discussions of inductive, normative, qualitative, historical and economic, and other approaches, and no comment on the question whether and in what way the so-called approaches have enough in common to justify the common label.2 Frequently approach and method are treated as synonyms, and so are method and technique. There are references to methodological approaches--but with no attempt to distinguish such approaches from others that are presumably nonmethodological.

The word approach is used both in relation to politics (or the study of politics) in a global sense and in relation to this or that aspect of politics. For example, one might speak either of a Marxist approach to politics or of a Marxist approach to the problem of war. The meaning assigned to the word in ChapterThree

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