An Introduction to understand political science
Political science is the study of politics and power from domestic, international, and comparative perspectives. It entails understanding political ideas, ideologies, institutions, policies, processes, and behavior, as well as groups, classes, government, diplomacy, law, strategy, and war.
August Comte opined that theories are the conceptual lenses through which we can sort out the plethora of facts that we confront daily. In fact, without theories, we might not be able to identify something as a fact at all. There are some features of a good theory. The first virtue is parsimony which implies frugality. A theory should be parsimonious to forgo unnecessary speculation and confusing details. The second feature of a sound theory is accuracy. Theories must be sufficiently detailed to allow for accurate assessments and explanations of the world. An elegant theory simply yet precisely interprets, describes, explains, or predicts some aspect of the world. However, these virtues are mostly identified as features of scientific theories. The explanatory and predictive behavior of natural sciences is not found in social sciences as too many uncontrolled and unforeseen forces affect political and social life and that is why social and political practices are seldom replicable. In light of these problems, some experts have argued that social scientists should not try to mimic the natural sciences; instead, they should develop their own standards and procedures.
For theorists of social and political life, therefore, the ability to feel and think in ways similar to the object of study is a crucial component of their task. In the West, political theory emerged out of political philosophy on one hand, and political thought, on the other. But it should be remembered that political theory is different from both. It differs from political philosophy in the sense that it is less formal and atomistic and less concerned to establish logical relationships between individual political concepts. Political theory is different from political thought by being less historical in focus. Thus, political theory is an essentially mixed mode of thought. It not only embraces deductive argument and empirical theory but combines them with normative concern, so acquiring a practical, action-guiding character. It is an attempt to arrive at a comprehensive, coherent, and general account of the sorts of things that we talk about when we discuss politics. A good political theorist is able to move between social conditions and political concepts. Political theory must involve a good deal of knowledge of political practice. Another aspect of political theory is that it is always defined by the specific situations and problems political thinkers have witnessed.
To understand political theory, we need to understand both the history of ideas on which the thinkers draw and the problems they considered themselves to be facing and to which their work was addressed. Studying the context in which political theory originally arose allows us to critically assess whose particular interests it reflected.
UNIT – 1: Introduction. 3
UNIT – 2: State and Sovereignty. 8
UNIT – 3: Law and Political Obligations. 8
UNIT – 4: Basic Political Values. 8
UNIT – 5: Democracy. 8
UNIT – 6: Political Ideologies. 8
Who this course is for:
- Law students