Political Science: The State of the Discipline II

By Ada W. Finifter | Go to book overview
Tarcov (1984) and Grant ( 1987) on Locke; Danford ( 1990) on Hume; Smith ( 1989) on Hegel; Gillespie ( 1984) on Hegel and Heidegger.
As James Nichols points out, however, in his comment on Holmes's piece, Holmes may greatly exaggerate the danger by misreading Strauss to be a crude instrumentalist engaging in "'the imprudent importation of doctrines there [ancient Greece] espoused into the context of a highly differentiated society,'" (1979, 130) despite Strauss's firm assertion that "We cannot reasonably expect that a fresh understanding of classical political philosophy will supply us with recipes for today's use" ( Strauss, City and Man, quoted by Nichols, 1979, 129). See also Strauss's review of John Wild where he comments: "[T]he teaching of the classics can have no immediate practical effect, because present day society is not a polis" (quoted in Tarcov 1991, 3).
Richter ( 1990, 49) apologizes for using the label "Cambridge School' since the phrase may not describe 'a group as cohesive as that name implies." I make no such apologies.
More recent books by Neal Wood on Locke ( 1984) and Cicero ( 1988) reiterate the importance of embedding "a classic text...in the appropriate social, political and economic context" (1984, 2). According to Wood, since most classic texts in political theory are "histories from above" and thus written by a member or client of the ruling classes the work must be read in the context of history from below. From this perspective, Wood criticizes the exponents of the Cambridge School for recognizing only ideas and paradigms as history rather than seeing in history the major social and economic forces of the past. For Wood, those of the Cambridge School fit well into the philosophic rather than the historical camp and by implication are of less interest to those concerned with politics (1984, 10-12).
Of quite a different order, perhaps standing all on its own, is the monumental work of Richard Ashcraft ( 1986) on John Locke. Ashcraft sets Locke Two Treatises firmly into the intellectual context of the seventeenth century, but is particularly interested in placing Locke in the political world of the dissidents of Restoration England. As such, the volume goes beyond recovering "the subjectively intended meaning of Locke action in writing the Two Treatises of Government" ( 1986, 12) to the study of political movements. The Cambridge School's methodology can only contribute partially to this endeavor (1986, 12 note 12) which takes Ashcraft more deeply into historical intrigues than a study of seventeenth century discourse would.
The references that follow are to the reprint of the essay in Tully ( 1988).
Skinner comments in note 2 that his theories apply to any practice of the history of ideas. He just happens to use examples from political thought because that "reflects my own specialization" (1988, 291 note 2). But it could just as easily have been the the study of esthetics or of ethics. For a consideration of the expansion of Skinner's views in precisely that direction see the series of essays in Rorty et al. ( 1984).
The most recent list of texts in the Cambridge series includes Aristotle, Bentham, Constant, Hooker, Leibniz, Locke, Machiavelli, J.S. Mill, Montesquieu, More, and Paine, hardly authors of 'lesser known works." The Liberty Fund has reprinted important (but perhaps lesser known) classics such as Mandeville Fable of the Bees, Algernon Sidney Discourses, Lord Acton's Essays, Hume's Essays, and much more.
A Collection of Koselleck essays, Futures Past, has been put out in translation by MIT Press ( 1985).
In a very different endeavor Harvey Mansfield new book ( 1989) on the executive claims to resemble a "conceptual history,' but a conceptual history that emphatically learns from texts, especially Machiavelli, not for clarification of the use of a term, but to raise serious questions about the nature of current practice.
Richter original article in Political Theory in 1986 drew forth two rejoinders from Jeremy Rayner ( 1988, 1990) with an intervening response from Richter ( 1989) in which the two debated the compatibility proposed by Richter in terms of the implications of the philosophy of language and semantic analysis for the respective schools.
O'Brien ( 1981) is an example from this earlier period of a far more thoughtful work critical of "male-stream political thought" for its denigration of the importance of reproductive labor within any political community.
We can note that Sabine ( 1937, chap. 32), for example, writes of the Autobiography, of the essays on Bentham and Coleridge, of the Logic, of Utilitarianism, On Liberty, On Representative Government, but makes no mention of On the Subjection of Women. The chapter on Mill by Henry M. Magid ( 1987, 784-801) in the Strauss and Cropsey volume does not mention the essay at all, neither in the text nor in the appended list of recommended readings. Nor does it surface in Wolin's book. It took almost 60 years after Carrie Chapman Catt put out an edition of the work in 1911 (New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company) for the work to be republished by Alice Rossi and MIT Press. Now there are a multitude of collections in which this essay appears.
Though sex the paper by Salkever and Nylan presented at the 1991 APSA meetings for a start in this direction.
My own work on the Euthyphro ( 1990) and the Symposium ( 1984b) gets its inspiration from Strauss's insistence that all Platonic dialogues are about politics, not just the Republic, Statesman, and Laws.
This is not even to begin to catalogue such articles that now regularly fill Political Theory, Interpretation, Journal of Politics, Review of Politics, Polity, and other such journals where we find numerous articles in political theory.
Although I have not discussed American political thought in this essay, in the context of the present point I should note Catherine Zuckert book with the wonderful double entendre title Natural Right and the American Imagination: Political Theory in Novel Form ( 1990a) in which the classics of American literature are explored for insights into the political philosophy of the American regime.
Sea also the volume edited by Alan Udoff ( 1991). Though this volume is subtitled "A Critical Engagement," Udoff's concluding comment in his introductory remarks, "It is a blessing that Leo Strauss lived and wren" (22), suggests that it isn't quite that.
The writing on Arendt has exploded recently. A few citations must suffice: Kateb ( 1983), Benhabib ( 1988), Jacobitti ( 1988, Honig ( 1988) criticism of Jecobitti, Bradshaw ( 1989), Dossa ( 1989), Ring ( 1989); even this does not capture the flurry of panels at meetings and works in progress on Arendt's thought.


Almond, Gabriel. 1988. "Separate Tables: Schools and Sects in Political Science," PS: Political Science and Politics 21:828- 42.

Ashcraft, Richard. 1986. Revolutionary Politics and Locke's "Two Treatises of Government." Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Ball, Terence. 1988. Transforming Political Discourse and Critical Conceptual History. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Barber, Benjamin R. 1984. Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Benhabib, Seyla. 1988. "Judgment and the Moral Foundations of Politics in Arendt's Thought." Political Theory 16:29-52.


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Political Science: The State of the Discipline II
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Table of Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Theory and Method 1
  • 1: Texts and Canons: The Status of the "Great Books" in Political Theory 3
  • Conclusion 21
  • Notes 22
  • Bibliography 23
  • 2: Political Theory in the 1980s: Perplexity Amidst Diversity 27
  • Notes 43
  • Bibliography 43
  • Additional Bibliography 46
  • 3: Feminist Challenges to Political Science 55
  • Notes 72
  • Bibliography 73
  • 4: Formal Rational Choice Theory: A Cumulative Science of Politics 77
  • Concluding Comments 97
  • Notes 98
  • Bibliography 101
  • 5: The Comparative Method 105
  • Conclusion 116
  • Notes 117
  • Bibliography 117
  • 6: The State of Quantitative Political Methodology 121
  • Conclusion 148
  • Notes 148
  • Bibliography 150
  • Political Processes and Individual Political Behavior 161
  • 7: Comparative Political Parties: Research and Theory 163
  • Conclusion 183
  • Notes 184
  • Bibliography 185
  • 8: The Not So Simple Act of Voting 193
  • Notes 213
  • Bibliography 214
  • 9: The New Look in Public Opinion Research 219
  • Notes 240
  • Bibliography 240
  • 10: Expanding Disciplinary Boundaries 247
  • Conclusion 269
  • Notes 271
  • Bibliography 271
  • 11: Citizens, Contexts, and Politics 281
  • Conclusion: Putting the Puzzle Back Together 299
  • Bibliography 300
  • 12: Political Communication 305
  • Conclusions 323
  • Bibliography 324
  • Political Institutions of the State 333
  • 13: Legislatures: Individual Purpose and Institutional Performance 335
  • Conclusions: Behavior, Institutions, and Theory 354
  • Notes 357
  • Bibliography 357
  • 14: Public Law and Judicial Politics 365
  • 15: Political Executives and Their Officials 383
  • Conclusion 402
  • Bibliography 403
  • 16: Public Administration: The State of the Field 407
  • Notes 423
  • Bibliography 424
  • Nations and Their Relationships 429
  • 17: Comparative Politics 431
  • Conclusion 443
  • Notes 444
  • Bibliography 446
  • 18: Global Political Economy 451
  • Conclusion 474
  • Notes 476
  • Bibliography 477
  • Conclusions 483
  • Conclusions 503
  • Notes 504
  • Bibliography 505
  • Appendix 511
  • Contributors 513
  • Index of Cited Authors 517


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