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POL%20130%20Lecture%202 - POL 130 Lecture 2 POL 130 Lecture...

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Unformatted text preview: POL 130 Lecture 2 POL 130 Lecture 2 Social Science and Theory January 13, 2011 Social Science Social Science Key similarities with science: The “is” versus the “ought” Systematic and rigorous explanation Science is a cumulative process Findings are generalizable Political Science Political Science The study of politics in a scientific manner Explain puzzling facts about politics Theory in Political Science Theory in Political Science Want to understand systematic features of the political environment Systematic: non­random Rules that apply over multiple cases What is Theory? What is Theory? A theory (or model) is a simplification of reality Theory and the scientific method: State the theory Infer hypotheses Subject hypotheses to tests Theory Theory Statements about the expected relationships between variables X causes Y Variables are logically connected Variables Variables Dependent variable ­ something we hope to explain Independent variable ­ something we think will provide us with all or part of the explanation Hypotheses Hypotheses The relationships between independent and dependent variables constitute the theory’s predictions or hypotheses Independent and dependent variables can have increasing or decreasing relationships Predictions allow us to test a theory’s explanation Assumptions Assumptions Assumptions are the simplifying conditions under which a theory is expected to hold true Allow us to simplify reality Not concerned with the “truthfulness” of assumptions Are “true” if they do not contradict one another Are “useful” if they lead to predictions consistent with reality Judging Theories Judging Theories Judge a theory by its logical consistency and the accuracy of its predictions A theory is logically “true” or “false” based on its internal logic/consistency A theory is “correct” or “incorrect” based whether it makes accurate or inaccurate predictions Attributes of a Good Theory Attributes of a Good Theory 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Logical consistency Accuracy Falsifiability Parsimony Non­spurious Logical Consistency Logical Consistency The assumptions do not contradict one another The predictions follow logically from the assumptions Accuracy Accuracy Accurate predictions about real world behavior Do not need to be accurate 100% of the time Needs to be better than a random guess or the predictions of the previous theory Falsifiability Falsifiability Must be able to state precisely the observations that would prove the theory wrong Imagine a test where the results would lead us to conclude the theory is wrong Not the same as whether the argument is true or false (falsifiable ≠ false) Parsimony Parsimony Explains a lot of events/facts with a limited set of assumptions Non­spurious Non­spurious Independent variable has a causal relationship with the dependent variable Testing Theories Testing Theories Case study­ evaluation of a theory through a close look at a single event Problems with selecting on the dependent variable Problem with testing probabilistic theories Testing Theories Testing Theories Statistical Methods Many theories in IR are probabilistic­ hypotheses tell us that there will be a mix of outcomes associated with a change in our independent variable but that that mix will tend towards the expected change in the dependent variable Confidence in our claim becomes stronger with morecases Better tested with statistical methods ...
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