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[THIS FILE CONTAINS SCIENCE AND PARADIGM NOTES, PLUS SOME KUHN BOOK NOTES] [updated 1-26-08] NOTES ON POLITICS, SCIENCE, AND PARADIGMS: This file of notes began as lecture notes for an introductory course in Third World Politics. Over time, they expanded and accreted too much illustrative material to present easily in one lecture, so I’ve put them in a file for students to read on their own. These notes are intended to accompany the assigned excerpt from Thomas S. Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions , 10-22. DEFINITIONS FOR AN INTRODUCTORY COURSE IN POLITICAL SCIENCE. In the first text for that class, Vicky Randall and Robin Theobald, in Political Change and Underdevelopment: A Critical Introduction to Third World Politics (Duke U P, 1985), defined politics as “being about the way that scarce resources (understanding resources in their widest sense) are distributed within a human community.” With the above def of the political, what is the definition of science ? Biology , 5th ed, 1989, by Helena Curtis and N. Sue Barnes, includes the following materials, some directly quoted, some paraphrased: " Science , whether biological or other, is a way of seeking principles of order . Art is another way, as are religion and philosophy. Science differs from these others in that it limits its search to the natural world, the physical universe. Also, and perhaps more significant, it differs from them in the central value it gives to observation (particularly that structured kind of observation called experimentation ). "Scientists begin their search by accumulating data --evidence--and trying to fit these data into systems of order, conceptual schemes that organize the data in some meaningful way." . .. "The great discoveries in science are not merely the addition of new data but the perception of new relationships among the available data --in other words the development of new ideas . [Stress that political science studies human behavior and decision making , rather than the physical world, but that the search for principles of order , the reliance on observation , and the use of conceptual schemes to organize the data hold true for it, just as with the physical sciences. And, as R&T show, the conceptual-theoretical advances involve d perceptions of new relationships among available data, i.e., new ideas that reinterpret reality better than the dominant paradigm.] SCIENTIFIC METHOD “The ideas of science are categorized in ascending order of validity as hypotheses, theories, and principles or laws . Lower on the scale than the hypothesis is the hunch, or educated guess, which how most hypotheses begin. A hunch becomes a hypothesis --and therefore an idea that can be NtParadigms, p. 1 [Last edited 12-8-05]
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investigated scientifically--when and only when it is stated in such a way that it is potentially testable , even if the test cannot be done immediately." Such hyps must be phrased unambiguously so that testing will confirm or disconfirm them in a given case. Direct tests, such as isolating some substance from plant leaves and seeing whether caterpillars are
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This note was uploaded on 02/15/2011 for the course POLSC 271 taught by Professor Erickson during the Fall '10 term at CUNY Hunter.

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