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Unformatted text preview: 34 What is Political Theory and Why Do We Need It? UNIT 3 THE NEED FOR POLITICAL THEORY Structure 3.0 Objectives 3.1 Introduction 3.2 Political Theory and Other Inter-related Terms 3.3 Usages of Political Theory 3.3.1 As the History of Political Thought 3.3.2 As a Technique of Analysis 3.3.3 As a Conceptual Clarification 3.3.4 As Formal Model Building 3.3.5 As Theoretical Political Science 3.4 Importance of Key Theoretical Concepts 3.5 Is Political Theory Dead? 3.6 Revival of Political Theory 3.7 Recent Developments 3.8 Let Us Sum Up 3.9 Some Useful References 3.10 Answers to Check Your Progress Exercises 3.0 OBJECTIVES This Unit concerns itself with the need for political theory. After going through this unit, you should be able to: • Distinguish political theory from other similar terms; • Discuss the different usages of political theory, viz, as the history of political thought, as a technique of analysis; etc. and • Examine whether political theory is dead. 3.1 INTRODUCTION Political theory is one of the core areas in political science. It is only in recent times that it has emerged as an academic discipline. Earlier, those who engaged in this enterprise styled themselves as philosophers or scientists. From ancient Greece to the present, the history of political theory has dealt with fundamental and perennial ideas of political science. The first modern usage of the term ‘Political Science’ was in the works of Charles-Louis de Secondat Montesquieu (1689-1755), Adam Smith (1723- 90), Adam Ferguson (1723-1816) and David Hume (1711-76), where it meant the ‘Science of the Legislator’. Political theory is the most appropriate term to employ in designating that intellectual tradition which affirms the possibility of transcending the sphere of immediate practical concerns and ‘viewing’ man’s societal existence from a critical perspective. Political theory was political science in the full sense, and there could be no science without theory. Just as we may speak of theory as either the activity of theorising, so political theory may legitimately and accurately be used as synonymous with political science. 35 Conceptions of Political Theory 3.2 POLITICAL THEORY AND OTHER INTER- RELATED TERMS A distinction can be made between political theory and similar terms. Such as political science, political philosophy and political ideology, though many treat them interchangeably. The differentiation between political theory and political science arises because of the general shift in intellectual perceptions brought about by modern science. Political Science has tried to provide plausible generalisations and laws about politics and political behaviour. Political theory reflects upon political phenomenon, processes and institutions and on actual political behaviour by subjecting it to philosophical or ethical criterion. It considers the question of the best political order, which is a part of a larger and a more fundamental question; namely, the ideal form...
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This note was uploaded on 03/13/2012 for the course IR 101 taught by Professor Harfancoofers during the Spring '12 term at Sunway University College.
- Spring '12