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Practical Political Science

My aim is to complement empirical political science with practical political science. To this end, political philosophy/political theory should be developed into practical political science.

All relevant publications about practical political science are currently available in German only:

I have only translated a few charts that provide a brief insight into how this topic is approached:



 Philosophy of Political Science
 Practical Sciences
 Practical Political Science


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SeitenanfangChart 1: Methodology of empirical political science
Type of science Human and cultural sciences
(humanities), interpretivists
Real social/political science,
phronetic perestroikans
Social sciences,
scientistic scientists
Forms of knowledge
Empirical (empirical-descriptive) knowledge.
Empirical knowledge Empirical (explanatory and predictive) knowledge
Tasks and objectives

World understanding, world interpretation, world description World explanation
Interpretation and interaction:
describe or critique lifeworlds and text analyses.
Describe visible
(phainómenon: visible
tension points
Recognize invisible causalities between events,
explain causal regularities and causal processes.
Knowledge objectives Descriptive, exploratory, critical Explanatory, predictive
Tools in a large sense(Organon) Language as a preferred means of world recognition, world
interpretation and world description of (visible) phenomena,
especially interpretative and qualitative-classificatory
tools (concepts, methods and methodical approaches),
e.g. qualitative content analysis, discourse analysis, hermeneutics.
Logic and mathematics as preferred means of
world recognition and
world explanation of invisible causalities,
especially quantitative and qualitative mathematical tools, experiments and simulations.
Macro level
Language rules,
interpretation schemes,
forms of life,
structures and
patterns of interpretation.
Description of phenomena at the macro level, e.g.
 Show power structures. Nomological explanations:
probabilistic laws
or regularities,
complex interrelationships,
causal or nomological
regularities, (explanation2, Salmon 1989: 184).
Micro level Use of symbols
(texts, pictures, audio and
video), naming.
Description of phenomena at the micro level, e.g.
tension points.
Ontic explanations:
Explain cause and effect
mechanisms, causal
processes or potentialities
(explanation1, Salmon 1989: 184).


SeitenanfangChart 2: Methodology of practical political science
Type of science Social Science,
scientistic scientists.
Real Social Science,
phronetic perestroikans.
Practical political science.
Forms of knowledge Applied knowledge 

Problem-oriented knowledge
(problem-based, problem-driven).
Practical (normative,
pragmatic and
technical) knowledge
Tasks and objectives
World change,
applied science.
World change,
problem-oriented science
(problem-based, problem-driven).
World change,
using genuinely practical
Knowledge objectives Social-technological Participatory, critical,
Practical (normative,
pragmatic and technical)
Praxis Establish social technology by reversing causalities. Change power relationships and tension points. Legitimation of normative
standardization and regulations.
Normative level,
value discourse
Legitimisation of
values is not possible: utilitarianism, like ethics of responsibility, is an ethics of the second order (Wieland 1999a).
No normative legitimation: „Our sociality and history is the only foundation we have, the only solid ground under our feet“ (Flyvbjerg/Landman/Schram 2012c: 293). Legitimation of maxims of action or political standards
(Handlungsmaximen oder
politische Normen
Pragmatic level,
pragmatic discourse
Selection and substantiation of objectives using a rational choice approach is not possible: Arrowparadox.

No pragmatic legitimation:
„[W]here ‘better’ is defined by the values of phronetic researchers and their reference groups“ (Flyvbjerg/Landman/Schram 2012c: 290).
Legitimation of strategies for action, individual-pragmatic rules and sociopragmatic regulations (Handlungsstrategien,
individualpragmatische Regeln sowie sozialpragmatische
Technical level,
means discourse
Substantiate social-
technological regulations with rational choice
Applied phronesis
enables empowerment .
Substantiate instruments for action or practical instructions for action (Handlungsinstrumente oder praktische Handlungsanweisungen).


SeitenanfangChart 3: Practical methodology within political philosophy and political science
Levels of
Ethics and
political philosophy
Political Science: Policy analysis and governance research
institutionalism and governance perspective
Advocacy coalition
Institutional Analysis and Development Framework
Normative value discourses.
normative (ethical and moral)
evaluations, here maxims of action (Handlungsmaximen).

Why should something be done?
Third evaluation stage:
categorical imperative.

3.1 Virtue ethic
(Tugendmoral), ethical and moral standards.
3.2 Legal morality (Rechtsmoral),
(political) justice,
legal norms
(Höffe 2009[2007]: 26).
Design perspective
(Haus 2010: 109),
"third order governing",
"meta governing",
"who or what - ultimately - governs the governors" (Kooiman 2003: 170 ff.).

Highest and most comprehensive level, the "deep core belief system" consisting of normative and
ontological axioms,
"basic ontological and normative beliefs, such as the relative valuation of individual freedom versus social equality" (Sabatier/Jenkins-Smith 1999: 121, see 133).
„Constitutional-choice rule affect operational activities and their effects in determining who is eligible and the rules to be used in crafting the set of collective-choice rules that in turn affect the set of operational rules“ (Ostrom/Cox/Schlager 2014: 284).
Pragmatic objective discourses.

Pragmatic legitimations, objectives and purposes,
here strategies for action (Handlungsstrategien).

What should be done?

State, market and civil society.
Second evaluation stage: Here objectives and purposes are
Pragmatic rationality, pragmatic imperative.

2.1 Individual pragmatic rules.
2.2 Social-pragmatic regulations
(Höffe 2009 [2007]:
Level of structuring the practices of problem solving by institution building (Haus 2010: 109),
"second order governing", "institution building" (Kooiman 2003: 153 ff.).
"governance structure"
(Mayntz/Sharpf 1995: 16).
Middle level of the "policy core belief systems"
consisting of policy strategies with which central values are implemented, "normative commitments and causal perceptions across an entire policy domain or subsystem" (Sabatier/Jenkins-Smith
1999: 121, 133).
„Collective Choice Rules-in-Use“ (Ostrom/Cox/Schlager 2014: 285).
„Collective-choice-rules affect operational activities and results through their effects in determining who is eligible and the specific rules to be used in changing operational rules“ (Ostrom/Cox/Schlager 2014: 284).
Technical means discourses.
means, here tools of action (Handlungsinstrumente).

How should something be done?

Social/Political Technology
At the first stage, means and ways are tested for their suitability for
optional intentions or
Technical rationality, technical imperatives.

1.1 Technical
individual rules.
1.2 Social-technological regulations (Höffe 2009 [2007]: 23).
Level of an operative practice of direct problem solving (Haus 2010: 109),
"first order governing", "opportunity creation” (Kooiman 2003: 135 f.),
"Service structure
(industry structure"
(Mayntz/Sharpf 1995).
Lowermost level with
respect to “instrumental decisions” (Sabatier/Jenkins-Smith 1999: 133), "secondary aspects of a coalition belief system", e.g. design of specific institutions" (Sabatier/Jenkins-Smith 1999: 122).
„Operational Rules-in-Use“ (Ostrom/Cox/ Schlager 2014: 285). „Operational rules directly affect day-to-day decisions made by the participants in any setting“ (Ostrom/Cox/Schlager 2014: 284).
Sources: Höffe 2009[2007], Ostrom/Cox/Schlager 2014, Mayntz/Sharpf 1995, Kooiman 2003, Sabatier/Jenkins-Smith 1999, Jenkins-Smith/Nohrstedt/Weible/Sabatier 2014). Frank Fischer (2003: 193-198) identified four rather than three levels: Technical-Analytical Discourse: Programme Verification, Contextual Discourse: Situational Validation, Systemic Discourse: Societal Vindication and Ideological Discourse: Social Choice. Comparison of actor-centered institutionalism and governance perspective in Haus (2010: 109).


SeitenanfangChart 4: Scientific operations and scientific discourses with reference to political science

1. Analytical operations of political science

Analytical discourses

Analytical discourse: Analytical discourse includes analytical operations and generates analytical knowledge. This especially includes political concepts or categories, but also models for analyzing political reality and for legitimizing practic-political standardization and regulations. These are conceptual or logical truths in the form of non-empirical, truth-apt statements.
2. Empirical operations of political science
or operations concerning what is, or what constitutes political reality, comprising of sentences (descriptions, explanations and predictions), and sentences
about valid standardization and regulation of a political system

Empirical discourses

2.1 Descriptive operation or descriptions of political reality

Descriptive discourse: In this case, the aim is to
understand political reality. What exists becomes the
focus of attention – using descriptive-interpretative methodologies a picture is created of what everyday politics is like in a political system: Power structures, dependencies and political decision-making processes are considered and examined in more detail. This also includes truth-apt statements regarding maxims for action (guidelines, norms, principles and values). These are identified and described, e.g. the welfare state postulate, e.g. Article 20 of the German Constitution. However, it also includes a detailed description of action strategies and instruments such as social security systems.
2.2 Explanatory operation or explanations of
political reality 
Explanatory discourse: Political reality also requires causal explanations. For example, there are explanations for demographic developments, but also for why social policy has developed in one way and not another.
2.3 Predictive operation
or predictions with respect to future political developments
Predictive discourse: The need to predict future
developments with forecast is central: It makes sense to take a look into the future in order to provide decision-makers in the present with important key information.
3. Practical operations of political science
or operations concerning what ought to be, containing discourses on standardizations or
regulations, e.g. maxims of action, strategies of action, instruments for action, instructions for action and practical judgements
(Handlungsmaximen, Handlungsstrategien, Handlungsinstrumente, Handlungsanweisungen und praktische Urteile)
Practical discourses
3.1 Normative operation or normative
dimension of policy
Normative discourse or value discourse: In this case, the political maxims of action (Handlungsmaximen) which are decisive for the standardization or regulation of the political system as a whole or of a policy area should be discussed.
3.2 Pragmatic operation, strategic level or dimension of policy Pragmatic discourse or objective discourse: In this case, the political strategies of action (Handlungsstrategien) that will be decisive for the regulation of a policy area should be discussed.
3.3 Technical operation, the operational level or dimension of policy Technical discourse or means discourse: In this case, the political instruments for action and individual instructions for action (Handlungsinstrumente) that are decisive for the regulation of a policy area should be discussed.

Philosophy of Political Science Practical Sciences Practical Political Science European Union

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