Poli 311 Lecture notes

Poli 311 Lecture notes - POLI 311: Empirical Methods There...

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POLI 311: Empirical Methods There are two ways to think about science: as a body of knowledge (laws of physics) and as a method of attaining knowledge Principles: prior to the knowledge, to obtain scientific knowledge, you must apply a set of knowledge Science as a method/set of principles systematic, rigorous Every science based on a common set of principles Empiricism: requires that every knowledge claim be based upon systematic observation Assumptions: Using the most accurate and reliable information about what is happening around us relying on our senses, it gives us the most reliable and accurate information Why? Obtaining information systematically through our senses helps to guard against bias Objectivity is not a characteristic of the scientific method Intersubjectivity: It provides the essential safeguard against bias by requiring that our knowledge claims be: transmissibility & replicability The procedures must be made public sufficient detail, in order for the researcher to verify the accuracy and legitimacy of the research In practice, replication does not occur very often due to funding Replication is becoming more important: students replicate studies The goal of the scientific method is explanation We want to organize and explain the facts, not simply collect them We want to develop a general understanding of general behavior by discovering patterns of interrelationships A political phenomenon is explained by showing how it is related to something else We are looking for recurring regularities empirical research involves a search for recurring patterns in the way that phenomena are related to one another Statistics are useful cause they give us criteria on judging whether our statements can be used explanations are always probabilistic Determinism: repeated systematic observation, entails the assumption that there are recurring regularities in political behavior Working assumptions cannot be proven no evidence that can be collected to prove the assumption
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Valid to the extent that research produces knowledge claims that withstand empirical testing The scientific method versus common sense: When using the scientific method we are technically using methods we use on a daily basis Make systematic observations and establish criteria of relevance
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POLI 311: Empirical methods Conceptualization Concept formation is the first step toward treating phenomena, not as unique and specific, but as instances of a more general class of phenomena Concepts serve two functions” Tools for data-gathering (data containers) Building-blocks of theories Concept: a universal descriptive word that refers directly or indirectly to something that is observable i.e. power, democracy, a chair In both cases, something of the world of observation comes to mind Universal descriptive words refer to a class of phenomena Particular descriptive words refer to a particular instance of that class If we want to generalize we need to focus on more universal descriptions
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Poli 311 Lecture notes - POLI 311: Empirical Methods There...

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