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Studying politics scientifically


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Studying politics scientifically

  1. 1. Studying Politics Scientifically <ul><li>Andrew Martin </li></ul><ul><li>PS 372 </li></ul>
  2. 2. What is empirical research? <ul><li>Empirical research provides a scientific mean of obtaining knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge is obtained through objective observation. </li></ul><ul><li>Empirical verification requires that a statement or theory be proven true through observation. </li></ul>
  3. 3. © Jack Kurtz
  4. 4. © Greeneville Sun
  5. 7. Authoritarian Mode Mystical Mode Rationalistic Mode Approaches to Knowledge Nachmias-Nachmias (2000)‏
  6. 8. Approaches to Knowledge Nachmias-Nachmias (2000)‏ Nachmias-Nachmias (2000)‏ <ul><li>Authoritarian Mode -- Knowledge or truth comes from some socially or politically sanctioned producers of Knowledge </li></ul>
  7. 10. © Fox News, The Daily Mirror, CNN
  8. 11. Approaches to Knowledge Nachmias-Nachmias (2000)‏ <ul><li>Mystical Mode -- Knowledge or truth comes from authorities on the supernatural (Ex: Prophets, Diviners, Ministers, etc.)‏ </li></ul>
  9. 13. Authoritarian or Mystical?
  10. 14. Approaches to Knowledge Nachmias-Nachmias (2000)‏ <ul><li>Rationalistic Mode -- Knowledge or truth can be obtained by from strict adherence to the rules of logic. </li></ul>
  11. 15. <ul><li>All humans are mortal. </li></ul><ul><li>Socrates is a human. </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore Socrates is mortal. </li></ul>Formal Logic
  12. 16. Mathematical Model
  13. 17. Scientific Knowledge <ul><li>Scientific knowledge is both verifiable or falsifiable. Statements or hypotheses can in theory be proven or refuted. </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific “laws” are repeatedly amended or discarded. (Ex: Laws of Physics)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific knowledge is non-normative. </li></ul>
  14. 18. Normative vs Non-Normative Knowledge <ul><li>Normative knowledge is evaluative, value laden and concerned with prescribing what ought to be. </li></ul>
  15. 19. Normative vs Non-Normative Knowledge Non-normative knowledge is concerned not with evaluation or prescription but with factual or objective determinations.
  16. 20. Journalists vs.Political Scientists <ul><li>Journalists: Analysts say it would probably backfire if the Obama campaign decided to attack GOP VP Nominee Sarah Palin because her 17-Year-Old daughter is pregnant. (Normative)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Political Scientists: Does invoking an opponent’s sex scandal increase a candidate’s probability of winning an election? (Non-Normative)‏ </li></ul>
  17. 21. Scientific Explanation Logic vs. Empirical Explanations <ul><li>There are deductive explanations based on logic and probabilistic explanations based on probability or induction. </li></ul>
  18. 22. Deductive Explanations <ul><li>Are tautological and not empirical . </li></ul><ul><li>In other words, they are assumed to be true by virtue of their logical form and not based on actual observation (Nachmias-Nachmias). </li></ul>
  19. 23. Example of Deduction <ul><li>All labs are yellow. </li></ul><ul><li>My dog Winston is a lab. </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore, Winston is yellow. </li></ul>
  20. 24. Example of Deduction <ul><li>In reality, we know not all labs are yellow. Winston is actually a chocolate lab, but if we accept the assumption that all labs are yellow, the conclusion is logical and sound, at least on its face. </li></ul>
  21. 25. Deduction <ul><li>Deduction requires </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A universal generalization (All labs are yellow)‏ </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Statement under which generalizations hold true. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>An event to explain (Why is my dog yellow?)‏ </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The rules of logic. (He is yellow because he is a lab, and all labs are yellow)‏ </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  22. 26. Probabilistic Knowledge <ul><li>Not many current scientific explanations are based on universal law. </li></ul><ul><li>In most cases, scientists use inductive reasoning to explain relationships based on what they observe. </li></ul><ul><li>Probabilistic explanations do not have to be 100 percent accurate. </li></ul>
  23. 27. Probabilistic Knowledge <ul><li>The dog example: There is a strong correlation between a labrador retriever and a yellow coat of fur. </li></ul><ul><li>For the sample, X percent of labs are Yellow X percent of ALL lab are Yellow </li></ul><ul><li>Inductive research can be used to draw generalizable conclusions from a sample of observations. </li></ul>
  24. 28. Scientific Knowledge Characteristics <ul><li>Scientific knowledge is </li></ul><ul><li>transmissible </li></ul><ul><li>cumulative </li></ul><ul><li>generalizable </li></ul>
  25. 29. Transmissible <ul><li>Scientific knowledge is transmissible . Research can be replicated and analyzed. </li></ul>
  26. 30. Cumulative <ul><li>Scientific knowledge is cumulative . </li></ul><ul><li>Substantive findings and research methods are based upon prior knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>The University of Kentucky's mens basketball team has a cumulative record of </li></ul><ul><li>2023-638-1 (.760) </li></ul>
  27. 31. Generalizable Scientific knowledge is generalizable . In other words, it has applicability to most observable cases.
  28. 32. What is theory?
  29. 33. What is theory? <ul><li>A theory is a statement or series of statements that organize, explain and predict phenomena. </li></ul>
  30. 34. What is theory? <ul><li>Theory drives every aspect of the research process. </li></ul><ul><li>It is crucial for theory to lead to specific, testable predictions. </li></ul>
  31. 35. What is theory? <ul><li>The level of confidence one has in a theory should increase as more observations support the theory’s predictions. </li></ul><ul><li>Scientists should aim for parsimony when constructing theory. </li></ul>
  32. 36. Parsimony <ul><li>To make theory more parsimonious, scientists must rely on fewer explanatory factors while retaining a theory’s generalizability. </li></ul>
  33. 37. The Scientific Method <ul><ul><li>Define a problem or research question. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Formulate hypotheses based on theory. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conduct research design, measurement and data collection. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Analyze the data to determine whether the observations are consistent with the hypotheses. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Continue to refine the research and extend it. </li></ul></ul>
  34. 38. Nachmias-Nachmias
  35. 39. Social Science vs. Natural Science <ul><li>Social scientists study the social lives of human beings. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Anthropology </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sociology </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Political Science </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Economics </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  36. 40. Social Science vs. Natural Science <ul><li>Natural scientists study nature. Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Biology </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Chemistry </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Physics </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  37. 41. Social Science vs. Natural Science <ul><li>Natural science has attained a level of precision and accuracy far beyond anything in the social sciences. </li></ul>
  38. 42. Social Science vs. Natural Science <ul><li>Humans do not behave as predictably as natural objects such as atoms or various elements. </li></ul>
  39. 43. Social Science vs. Natural Science <ul><li>Social scientists have struggled to develop laws or rules of human behavior in the way natural sciences have developed “natural laws.” </li></ul>
  40. 44. Are the social sciences really sciences?
  41. 45. Practical Criticisms <ul><li>As stated, humans behave in an unpredictable and complex manner, making it difficult to erect any “laws” of human behavior. </li></ul>
  42. 46. Practical Criticisms <ul><li>Social science concepts are frequently difficult to measure. </li></ul>
  43. 47. Practical Criticisms <ul><li>Gathering data about human behavior and attitudes often poses logistical or ethical problems. </li></ul>
  44. 48. Philosophical Criticisms <ul><li>Scientific research cannot explain all human behavior. </li></ul>
  45. 49. Philosophical Criticisms <ul><li>Humans are conscious subjects with subjective emotions and interpretations of reality. </li></ul><ul><li>Studying them requires empathy. (Interpretationists)‏ </li></ul>
  46. 50. Philosophical Criticisms <ul><li>Constructivists believe facts are largely constructed from cultural and historical experiences and practices. </li></ul>
  47. 51. Political Science History Traditional Political Science <ul><li>Traditional political science developed from studies of law, institutions and ethics. </li></ul><ul><li>Most studies focused on development of organizations, and key concepts centered on formal powers. </li></ul><ul><li>Political scientists primarily engaged in descriptive work. </li></ul>
  48. 52. Political Science History Behavioral Revolution <ul><li>Starting in the 1950s, European trained academics began introducing scientific research methods. </li></ul><ul><li>Political scientists began collecting vast amounts of empirical data of voting with survey research. </li></ul><ul><li>Development of computers allows for complex mathematical calculation. </li></ul>
  49. 54. Empirical Research is good because ... <ul><li>It allows political scientists to explain and predict political phenomena, not just describe them. </li></ul><ul><li>Empirical science provides a more rigorous and precise test of political science theory than the traditionalist approach. </li></ul><ul><li>Econometrics allows political scientists to observe relationships not picked up by common sense or intuition. </li></ul>
  50. 55. Empirical Research is bad because ... <ul><li>Political behavior research tends to downplay the importance of institutions and political processes. </li></ul><ul><li>Even if one grants “objective” research is possible, it is not healthy for scholars to be detached from finding solutions to important problems such as poverty or despotism. </li></ul><ul><li>Political science is too technocratic and abstract to be practically useful for citizens and government officials. </li></ul>