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Philosophy of Political Science

Limits and possibilities of political science research:
axiological, epistemic, methodological and ontological foundations

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  1. Project - Philosophy of Political Science

  2. Lecture / Seminar Description

  3. Multilingual approach

  4. References

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1. Project - Philosophy of Political Science

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Here you can find the PDF versions of the project "Philosophy of Political Science" in English, German and Romanian:

  1. Philosophy of Political Science. Limits and possibilities of political science research: axiological, epistemic, methodological and ontological foundations of political science.
  2. Philosophie der Politikwissenschaft. Grenzen und Möglichkeiten politikwissenschaftlicher Forschung: Axiologische, epistemische, methodologische und ontologische Grundlagen der Politikwissenschaft.
  3. Filosofia științelor politice. Limitele și posibilitățile ale cercetării în științele politice: fundamentele axiologice, epistemice, metodologice și ontologice ale științelor politice.

2. Lecture / Seminar Description

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The general philosophy of science analyzes the rational limits and possibilities of the sciences. It discusses the importance of empiricism, methodology, practical relevance, rationality and values. The central question is: what are the  foundations of scientific research? In my opinion, four types of questions can be ideally identified and discussed:

  1. Ontology: What objects can and should be scientifically investigated? What kinds of problems, what entities, characteristics, phenomena, relations or structures should be addressed within science?

  2.  Axiology: What tasks and goals do scientists pursue? To what extent can and should values be studied? Which values constitute science?

  3. Methodology: What is and what can science do? How can science be guaranteed? What are the limits and possibilities of scientific research?

  4.  Epistemology: What results, knowledge or theories can science generate?

The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Social Science (McIntyre/Rosenberg 2017) has a chapter on every social science (economics, history, political science, psychology and sociology/anthropology). The chapter on political science is titled “Why is there no philosophy of political science?” (Verbeek/McIntyre 2017). Firstly, the authors state that there is no special discipline philosophy of political science with a corresponding institutional anchoring in the science system, e.g. curricula, chairs or journals. Secondly, there are a variety of contributions that deal with the limits and possibilities of political science research and thus with fundamental issues of this discipline.

In this lecture / seminar an insight into the special field of philosophy of political science is given. Firstly, the limits and possibilities of political science research are discussed in an ideal-typical way using the axiological, epistemological, methodological and ontological foundations. Secondly, the significance of this special discipline for the entire discipline of political science is worked out. Dealing with the fundamentals of the discipline not only enables a therapeutic dimension to eliminate misunderstandings, but also promotes innovative insights that can advance the discipline of political science in many ways. Four sets of questions are discussed:

  1. Ontological dimension: What is the subject area of political science as part of the science system? What kinds of problems, what entities, properties, phenomena, relations or structures are addressed within political science?

  2. Axiological dimension: What tasks and goals can and should political scientists pursue? To what extent can and should political values be studied? Which values constitute political science?

  3. Methodological dimension: Which procedures can be guaranteed to be scientific? Which political science methodologies are used? What are the limits and possibilities of political science methodologies?

  4. Epistemic dimension: What results, knowledge goals, political knowledge or political theories can be generated by political science?

4. Multilingual approach

Language and mathematics are the most important tools of scientists. If one considers language alone as an instrument of science, then two peculiarities stand out: first, there is a huge number of languages; and second, scientists all over the world tend to publish only in English, today’s lingua franca.

In the following, I would like to show two things. Firstly, multilingualism increases the performance of language as an instrument of science. Secondly, multilingualism contributes to the reliability of the results because these are simultaneously reproduced in another language. Therefore, it is useful to publish in at least one more language besides English. These theses are developed using the example of a problem from the philosophy of knowledge, based on the distinction made by Gilbert Ryle between “knowing that” and “knowing how”. Here you can find a detailed article about it:

4. References

Aristotle, 4th century BC. “Aristotelian Organon.” Retrieved March, 25, 2019
(https://archive.org/details/AristotleOrganon).

Organon I: Categories (Greek: peri ton kategorion, Latin: categoriae)

Organon II: On Interpretation (peri hermeneias, de interpretatione)

Organon III: Prior Analytics (analytika protera, analytica priora)

Organon IV: Posterior Analytics (analytika hystera, analytica posteriora)

Organon V: Topics (peri ton topoi, topica)

Organon VI: On Sophistical Refutations (peri ton sophistikon elenchon, de sophisticis elenchis)

Bevir, Mark/Rhodes, Roderick Arthur William, (Hg.), 2016a: Routledge Handbook of Interpretative Political Science. London, New York: Routledge.

Box-Steffensmeier, Janet M./Brady, Henry E./Collier, David (Hg.), 2010a [2008]: The
Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Creswell, John W., 32013 [1998]. Qualitative Inquiry & Research Design. Choosing Among Five Approaches. Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi: Sage Publications.

Flick, Uwe/Kardorff, Ernst von/Steinke, Ines (Hg.), 112015 [2000]: Qualitative
Forschung. Ein Handbuch. Reinbek: Rowohlt.

Herfeld, Catherine, 2017: Philosophie der Politikwissenschaft. In: Lohse, Simon/Reydon, Thomas, (Hg.), 2017: Grundriss Wissenschaftsphilosophie. Die Philosophien der Einzelwissenschaften. Hamburg: Felix Meiner. 615-650.

Lauer, Johann, 2017: „Methodenstreit“ und Politikwissenschaft. Der methodologische Glaubenskrieg am Beginn des 21. Jahrhunderts zwischen szientistischem Establishment und phronetischen Perestroikans. Heidelberg: heiBOOKS.
Webversion: lauer.biz/methodenstreit/index.htm

Leopold, David/Stears, Marc, [Hg.], 2008: Political Theory: Methods and Approaches. Oxford: Oxford Universtiy Press.

List, Christian/Valentini, Laura, 2016: The Methodology of Political Theory. In: Cappelen, Herman/Gendler, Tamar Szabó/Hawthorne, John, (Hg.), 2016: The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Methodology Oxford: Oxford University Press. 525-553.

Lohse, Simon/Reydon, Thomas, (Hg.), 2017: Grundriss Wissenschaftsphilosophie. Die Philosophien der Einzelwissenschaften. Hamburg: Felix Meiner.

McIntyre, Lee/Rosenberg, Alex, (Hg.), 2017: The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Social Science. London, New York: Routledge.

Moses, Jonathan W., and Torbjørn L. Knutsen, 22012 [2007]. Ways of Knowing. Competing Methodologies in Social and Political Research. New York: Palgrave Macmillian.

Verbeek, Bruno/McIntyre, Lee, 2017: Why is there no philosophy of political science? In: McIntyre, Lee/Rosenberg, Alex, (Hg.), 2017: The Routledge Philosophy Companion to Philosophy of Science. 433-447.


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