In the preceding chapters we said that questions of fact and questions of value are raised in the study of politics, and that questions of fact call for descriptive answers. We further said that questions of fact can themselves be subdivided; they can be either developmental or cross-sectional, and they can be ranked according to the generality of the answers sought.
In describing what is done in the study of politics we have also been prescribing. The prescription is that those who want to do desirable or significant teaching or research, thus contributing to the rationality of decisions, should state and answer questions. The questions should concern ends and means. The object should be to identify ends and means and to clarify conceptions of them; it should further be to identify and clarify relationships within and among ends and means. These will be relationships having to do with thought and action, purpose and method, cause and effect, conditions and consequences. We have said that answers to developmental questions are likely to be more significant the further they go up the scale from the chronicle to genetic explanation, that cross-sectional questions are likely to be more significant if they are general and broad than if they are narrow and specific, and that statements about any one category of items are likely to increase in significance along with their level of generality.
As we shall soon see, this amounts to saying that description becomes increasingly significant the more it contributes to explanation. Thus the prescription advanced is that the explanation of political conditions and events should be considered the purpose (or; at least, a major purpose) of political scientists.