Political Science: A Philosophical Analysis

By Vernon Van Dyke | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOURTEEN
Methods

In the Introduction to Part III we noted that when the word methods is given clear meaning it ordinarily is made to denote either (1) epistemological assumptions on which the search for knowledge is based or, much more commonly, (2) the operations or activities that occur in the acquisition and treatment of data. We noted, too, that in the latter of these meanings a method may also be called a technique.

We have discussed methods in the first of the above meanings at various points through this book, especially in the Introduction to Part I and in Chapter One. Here, therefore, the focus is on method in the second sense. When methods are identified and defined in terms of the types of operations or activities that occur in the acquisition and treatment of data, they are described in various ways: as analytical, quantitative, qualitative, inductive, deductive, comparative, scientific, etc. The focus here will be on these labels and on the categories they identify, even though this involves some overlapping. There will be no attempt to present a logical and articulate classification scheme.


ANALYSIS AS A METHOD

We have defined analysis above as a process by which the parts of a whole are identified. The object of an analytical method is thus, presumably, to identify the components of whatever is being examined. Commonly, too, analysis is accompanied by an effort to find out how the parts are related-how they fit together to make

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