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Clouds, Clocks, and the study of Politics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 July 2011

Gabriel A. Almond
Stanford University
Stephen J. Genco
Stanford University
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In its eagerness to become scientific, political science has in recent decades tended to lose contact with its ontological base. It has tended to treat political events and phenomena as natural events lending themselves to the same explanatory logic as is found in physics and the other hard sciences. This tendency may be understood in part as a phase in the scientific revolution, as a diffusion, in two steps, of ontological and methodological assumptions from the strikingly successful hard sciences: first to psychology and economics, and then from these bellwether human sciences to sociology, anthropology, political science, and even history. In adopting the agenda of hard science, the social sciences, and political science in particular, were encouraged by the neopositivist school of the philosophy of science which legitimated this assumption of ontological and meta-methodological homogeneity. More recently, some philosophers of science and some psychologists and economists have had second thoughts about the applicability to human subject matters of strategy used in hard science.

Research Article
Copyright © Trustees of Princeton University 1977

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