General Method of Political Science

As the review of the methods described above would indicate, Political Science does not and cannot confine its study to a single method. It is partly due to the difficulties of methodology, and partly due to the attitude and approach of the political scientists, whether scholars, students or research workers. They do not view political problems, from one and the same angle, but from different and even divergent ones. Some of them, especially those who are of philosophic bent of mind adopt the deductive, rationalistic and aphoristic methods and think in terms of theories and hypotheses.

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Others, especially those who have historical interest or inclination, apply historical and comparative methods and are inclined to study the origin and evolution of the political institutions. Those who are interested in law and jurisprudence tend to emphasize the legalistic and juristic method in political study. Yet others, especially in recent times, when physical sciences, i.e. Physics and Chemistry, have made much spectacular successes in science and technology, tend to emphasise the empirical and inductive method in order to replace dogma with facts. Finally, many a political scientist upholds the statistical, psychological, anthropological and geographical approaches to the study of political affairs and problems.

In conclusion, whatever be the method or approach adopted, a political scientist must always be guided by the following principles:

(i) He must not allow his values or desires to obscure the facts.

(ii) He must compare his values with the values of other individuals and groups.

(iii) He must examine die institutions of society that affect his desires and the desires of others.

(iv) He must take into account die unexpected and accidental behaviour of others.

(v) He must devise a strategy for achieving his goals.

(vi) He must remain modest in enunciating his conclusions and be ready to revise his goals and conclusions, whenever need arises to do so.

Political phenomena are always variable and unpredictable. No single method or approach can provide final and lasting solution to all the problems which constantly arise in politics and State. Hence Political Science should always be ready to learn all it can from all other sciences, especially from all other sister sciences of society and man, such as Economics, Sociology, Ethics, Psychology, etc. Indeed they constitute a quarrelsome family, with some of them, e.g., Economics or Psychology, claiming to be exact sciences.

This should not be the attitude of Political Science. Its greatest virtue lies in humility. Few political scientists believe that any single method or approach can ever solve all the problems as they will arise in the life and relations of men and the States. That is why Political Science is always ready to learn all it can from other branches of human knowledge, without claiming to offer final solution or to have arrived at definitive principles or unchallengeable theories or conclusions.

This attitude alone insures its continuing growth and its academic validity. Politics is, mainly, a matter of conflict and struggle of panics, ideologies and personalities. The methods of Political Science should aim at an integrative approach to these conflicts by applying these methods with care, patience, judgement and cooperation with other social sciences.

 

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