Strategic Tensions in the Scale of Political Analysis: an Essay for Philomphalasceptics Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Tucked inside Thomas Kuhn's masterly little book is a statement to the effect that scholarly endeavours, that have yet to fix upon an accepted paradigm, display continual and often exacerbatic confrontations between rival wings each trying to press upon the other the virtues of their particular mode of scientific procedure. In Kuhn's own words: ‘Because it [the awareness of anomaly] demands large scale paradigm destruction and major shifts in the problems and techniques of normal science, the emergence of new theories is generally preceded by a period of pronounced professional insecurity.’ It seems as if political scientists have taken this point to heart. Rarely does an issue of a journal appear without some restatement or reappraisal of the ‘State of the Discipline’ and related problems.² Apart from the obvious point that political scientists must be spending inordinate amounts of time in such debates, and so perhaps neglecting other fruitful activities — a point which my economist friends would characterize as opportunity costly — there is a concomitant danger that the political world may begin to appear only analyzable with the aid of abstruse, esoteric and above all novel paradigms. Theoretical reasoning may be sustained on the basis of novelty rather than perspicuity.

publication date

  • April 1972