Polity and Society: Philosophical Underpinnings of Social Science Paradigms

Polity and Society: Philosophical Underpinnings of Social Science Paradigms

Polity and Society: Philosophical Underpinnings of Social Science Paradigms

Polity and Society: Philosophical Underpinnings of Social Science Paradigms

Synopsis

This book deconstructs competing paradigms in political science and sociology in order to demonstrate metaphysical, methodological, and normative assumptions that underpin the paradigms themselves. Haas covers alternative paradigms in seven fields of middle-range theory--development, community power, presidential voting, ethnic voting, civil strife, international violence, and international community--in both political science and sociology. He concludes that competing theorists argue ideologically when they should be discussing their differences in terms of underlying philosophical assumptions.

Excerpt

This book started writing itself in 1963, when my kindly dissertation adviser thumped a coffee mug on the table before me during a discussion to emphasize the point that what flashed before me was not the coffee mug but instead my perception of the coffee mug. The act was reminiscent of Karl Marx's fist pounding a table during a debate in London (McLellan 1973:156-57), but I respectfully declined to note that my perception would be absent without the coffee mug. Otherwise, we would have entered into a metaphysical discussion, and such debates were taboo at the time. Even after completing my dissertation, I refrained from writing about philosophical assumptions of social science theories because such an exercise would have been premature. The debates of the 1950s and 1960s were about promises and tentative formulations. Theories evolved and matured in the 1970s and 1980s, during which time even my erstwhile adviser abandoned his earlier metaphysical hypothesis to accept the mug as the primary reality.

But perhaps the book began earlier. My peregrinations began in Detroit, across the river from Canada and, five years after my birth, the home of the largest urban race riot up to that time. My family moved to Hollywood during the heart of blacklisting, when I was twelve. Then, while I was an undergraduate at Stanford, I read Allen Ginsberg Howl (1956), which asked what had become of a generation of intelligent persons who conformed to an order that failed to question such evils as the cold war, racial segregation, and urban poverty. Having silenced leftists during the McCarthy era, the United States seemed to be complacently enjoying its status . . .

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