Political Science: The State of the Discipline II

By Ada W. Finifter | Go to book overview

conditions leading to the initiation, escalation, diffusion, and termination of war. A search to approach sufficiency is afoot in different directions.

Can we say that there is progress in the study of war and peace? The answer is a tentative yes. As part of this exercise, I randomly read articles on international war in leading journals, starting with the end of World War II. 21 In journals from the 1940s and 1950s, I found much precise description but only limited attempts to go beyond the case under scrutiny. It is not surprising that few academics refer to that work today. In the 1960s and 1970s, journal articles remain largely descriptive, but a change is noticeable. 22 Published empirical results seldom supported widely held propositions. Instead, they legitimized radically different theories from the accepted norm. In the 1980s and 1990s the development of alternative perspectives on the causes of war exploded. The legacy of the last two decades shows a growing commitment to theoretical specification and an increasing link to empirical evaluations. The study of war and peace is poised at the verge of generating a consistent paradigm that may guide work in the next decade.

It is my belief that the next generation of scholars will be far more dependent on their own cohorts than on their ancient ancestors. The massive improvements in specification and extensive empirical developments permit rejection of some plausible propositions, while others are preserved because they survive initial tests. As we move into the future, and larger, well-documented data sets become increasingly available to students of politics, one expects that current work will be dramatically revised and superseded. Improvements in formal structures and statistical developments that have started to appear in the last decade will undoubtedly expand and integrate larger sections of the field. This generation can take credit for being the first to face the scientific challenge and explore, admittedly very incompletely, the propositions generated by generations of students of war and peace. The next generation faces the urgent challenge of controlling war that now can escalate to unthinkable levels. That task is challenging and urgent.


*With special thanks to James Caporaso, James Morrow, Gretchen Hower, Randolph Siverson, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Frank Zagare, Claudio Cioffi-Revilla, John Vasquez and Suzanne Werner for their insightful suggestions and to Douglas Lemke and Doris Fuchs, who labored long and hard improving and editing the manuscript and putting together the bibliography. David Hopson and Joel Smith were instrumental in constructing graphics. Sandra Seymour is responsible for the final typing.

I use this particular definition of war as a means to narrow my subject area and not because it has more validity than other definitions of war. A most comprehensive, all-inclusive definition is provided bby Cioffi-Revilla ( 1991b), who wishes to catalog all possible conflicts. "War is an occurrence of purpose, collective violence among two or more social groups pursuing conflicting political goals that result in fatalities, with at least one belligerent group being organized under the command of authoritative leadership."
Thomas Kuhn ( 1970) proposed the notion of a paradigm but conceded that it has been used in various ways. In later work he argues that a paradigm "...stands for the entire constellation of beliefs, values, techniques, and so on shared by the members of a given community. On the other, it denotes one sort of element in that constellation, the concrete puzzle-solutions which, employed as models or examples, can replace explicit rules as a basis for the solution of the remaining puzzles of normal science" ( Kuhn 1970, 175) Here I employ paradigm in the first sense defined by Kuhn. For an enlightening discussion with world politics applications see Vasquez ( 1983, 1-12).
For a particularly heated discussion of data and paradigm testing in the context of deterrence, see Richard Ned Lebow and Janice Gross Stein ( 1990) and Paul Huth and Bruce Russett ( 1990).
For a practical review of epistemological problems in political science, see Tilly 1985 and Collier 1991.
The more advanced the field, the stronger is the consensus on rules of falsification. Note that Stephen Hawking, despite the enormous complexity of his ideas on time and space, accepts with little discussion Lakatos' criteria and through their application is able to reject complex theoretical alternatives ( Stephen W. Hawking, 1988. A Brief History of Time. Bantam, 9-13 and 47-49).
In no area is the difficulty of establishing a paradigm more apparent than in the study of human evolution. Paleontologists organized their discipline around Darwin's insight that the current expressions of a species, despite differences in size and appearance, evolved from a common extinct ancestor that was less adapted to survival than those still among us. Darwin's notions were and still are in sharp contrast to the theory of human creation held by the Western church. The debate on the evidence is being fought to this day. For example, "scientific" creationists challenge bone dating techniques and attempt to show that species were concurrently created. The modern study of genetics, however, has independently confirmed the validity of species transformation, lending further credence to Darwin's insight.
The difference between "hegemon," that is omnipotent over all its allies and foes and "dominant," which is simply the largest among the major powers is important. A dominant power is large, indeed the largest among large, but it is not large enough to impose its preferences on the whole coalition or the rest of the world. Thus, a dominant nation at the top of a hierarchy needs allies to preserve a regime. A "hegemon" is autarchic, requiring no allies to exercise influence over the regime or the world. Empirically, dominance is frequent but hegemony is very rare in the international system, appearing for less than 20 years over the last 200, and usually after devastating wars ( Keohane 1984; Strange 1985; Russett 1985; Kugler and Organski 1989).
Recent extensive work on Japan and the elaborate evaluation of the interactions among European nations during World War I suggest that this avenue is promising ( Choucri and North 1975, 1989).
This is a critical difference between power transition and hegemonic theory. Power transition contends that a dominant nation is the largest among major powers but not preponderant over all. Hegemonic theory, on the other hand, suggests that stability is maintained only when the largest power is preponderant, a condition not found in the international system in the last 200 years, with the exception of the brief interlude after World War II when the United States was preponderant mainly because the competition was exhausted by war. This unfortunate specification has detracted from the central


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
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


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 538

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.