lecture9 - UCLA PS 40 Department of Political Science...

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1 UCLA Department of Political Science Fall 2007 PS 40 Introduction to American Politics Prof. Thomas Schwartz Hunk 9 Analytical Reasoning in Political Science We in the social sciences are concerned chiefly with explanation . Typical Explanation A typical explanation has the following elements : 1) Fact(s) These are the observations, data, or even conventional beliefs that are to be explained. 2) An hypothesis This might also called a theory or a model . It is essentially a guess . More fully it is a conjecture that is provisionally assumed to see what follows from it—to see how well it explains the given facts. 3) Steps of inference, if need be These are offered to show that the hypothesis explains the original facts. 4) Rival hypotheses and comparisons. In due course I shall address this last element at some length. Look at what makes a bad explanation bad. A bad explanation does one of the following things : 1) Does not explain The fact to be explained does not follow from the explanation offered. Example : Turnover (i.e. the rate of change in office holders) is greater in the California Senate than in the US Senate because the California Senate is smaller (40 vs.
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