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Chapter2_cq-C - Principles of Comparative Politics Chapter 2 What Is Science Science Science is a collection of facts that tell us what we know

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Principles of Comparative Politics Chapter 2: What Is Science?
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Science? Science is a collection of facts that tell us what we know about the world. A scientific theory is one that has been proven. “The sun revolves around the earth” is not a scientific statement. If my theory is correct, I should observe that rich countries are more likely to be democracies. I do observe that rich countries are more likely to be democracies. Therefore, my theory is correct. Politics cannot be studied in a scientific manner. What do all of these statements have in common?
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Science? All of them are in some sense wrong!
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Science Science is NOT a collection of facts that tell us what we know about the world. A scientific theory is NOT one that has been proven. “The sun revolves around the earth” IS a scientific statement. If my theory is correct, I should observe that rich countries are more likely to be democracies. I do observe that rich countries are more likely to be democracies. IT DOES NOT FOLLOW that my theory is, therefore, correct. Politics CAN be studied in a scientific manner. To find out why, you’ll have to pay attention.
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Political Science Comparative politics is a subfield of political science. But what is political science?
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Political Science Political science is the study of politics in a scientific manner. How’s that for a tautology?!
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Political Science Political science is the study of politics in a scientific manner. In this chapter, we’ll address what we mean by “Science.” In Chapter 3, we’ll address what we mean by “Politics.”
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Comparative Method A common method employed by political scientists to learn about the world is called the comparative method. The comparative method is also known as Mill’s Methods. Method of Agreement Method of Difference John Stuart Mill, A System of Logic, 1843
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Comparative Method Scholars who employ the comparative method collect observations of the world and then use them to develop general laws or theories about why certain political phenomena occur. The goal is to identify the causes of political events. But what’s a cause?
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Comparative Method A cause is a necessary or sufficient condition. What is a necessary condition? What is a sufficient condition?
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Necessary Condition “A circumstance in whose absence the event in question cannot occur.” Y never happens unless X happens. If Y then X, or if no X then no Y.
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Visual Representation of a Necessary Cause Effect E Present Cause C N Present Example 1: Oxygen (cause) is a necessary condition for fire (effect)
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“A circumstance in whose presence the event in question must occur.” Y always happens if X happens. If X, then Y, or if no Y, then no X.
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This note was uploaded on 05/25/2010 for the course POSC 15 taught by Professor Indrig during the Spring '10 term at UC Riverside.

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Chapter2_cq-C - Principles of Comparative Politics Chapter 2 What Is Science Science Science is a collection of facts that tell us what we know

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