Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Political science-an art or science?

political science
Political science is the study of governments, public policies and political processes, systems, and political behavior.

 Political science subfields include political theory, political economy, policy studies and analysis, comparative politics, international relations, and a host of related fields.

Political scientists use both humanistic and scientific perspectives and tools and a variety of methodological approaches to examine the process, systems, and political dynamics of all countries and regions of the
Is politics a science?
The claim of a social science to be treated as a full-fledged science , has been an issue most perplexing to the students. The word ‘science’ is , no doubt , inserted in the title of politics; certain scholars , however , refuse to consider it as a science on the grounds that its premises are not as valid as their counterparts in physical sciences. No doubt , the subject and the issue of politics are so intricate and diverse that unanimity can hardly be seen in the view points of different theorist. Moreover , traditional mode of scientific enquiry and research is not directly applicable to fact-finding in the realm of politics. In order to have a clear appraisal of the nature of this science , it is appropriate to explain the term science.
The term science is applied to the composition of consistent propositions which have been deduced on the basis of impartial study and observation. The conclusions based on scientific enquiry , are so compiles that sequence cause and effect remains consistent. Moreover , these premises are valid of universal character at all times and for all places. The natural sciences such as physics , chemistry , biology etc., can be termed as sciences , because their dictums and research methodology is purely of scientific character. The law of gravitation or the composition of water , for instance , depicts certain laws which hold good for all times.
Political science cannot be considered as a science in aforesaid meanings , as there are notable variations in political concepts and political environments. It is difficult to anticipate future course action , as multi-factors and cross-currents upset the flow of circumstances sometimes quite abruptly. The underline motives and interests that shape political behavior and attitude , are of divergent types and they affect the working of political institutions in different manners This account for the absence of finality in political dictums.
            Sometimes divergent views are found among different political scientists on the same issue. Jhon S. Mill , for example , believes in the principle of one nation one state’ as necessary safeguard of liberty. Whereas Lord Acton an equally high authority on the subject , postulates multi-nation polity as a symbol of civilized way of life. Multitude of ideas and different can also be traced in regard to the form of government. Some political theorists praise parliamentary system while certain other prefer presidential sustem. Solid arguments are advanced in support of their respective views from both sides. The difference and variations in the structures and processes of governments ay different historical phases , is especially noble. Consequently , a subject that has to deal with such uncertain environments , can’t claim universality and definiteness. Lord Bryce considers political science as an imperfect science in the same sense as Marshal called economics as the science of waves.

Arguments against :
                        The arguments that are opposed to consider political science as a true science , are the following.
1.lack of Consensus on Nature of Political Science:
There is no agreement among political scientists as to its methods, principles and conclusions.The writers of politics do not adopt any one method in the field of political enquiry and research.
2. No Certainty and Universality in the Laws of Political Science:
It lacks uniform principles or laws that are universally valid. The generalisations of the natural sciences are frequently described as laws. But the generalisations put forward by social sciences including Political Science are endlessly disputed as they do not possess the same degree of certainty or universality. At best, they are 'tendencies', not 'laws'.
3. No Predictability:
The political behaviour of man is unpredictable and hence it is difficult to arrive at exact and definite views and conclusions. Generalisations in social sciences lack the quality of predictability which is regarded as a major characteristic of the 'laws' of natural sciences. The latter make forecasts about future developments possible.
4. No Law of Cause and Effect:
There are many laws in natural science - a particular cause will lead to a particular effect. But this does not happen in Political Science. There is no certainty that the factors which caused the French Revolution of 1789 will lead to a similar revolution in another country.
5. Not Possible to Conduct Experiments in any Laboratory:
It is impossible to apply to Political Science rigorous scientific methods of investigation. General statements are difficult to establish because of the problem of their verifiability. "Political phenomena are characterized by uncertainty, variableness and a lack of order and continuity."
Laboratory experiments are not possible in Political Science as in the case of Physics or Chemistry. Social phenomena based on human behaviour are constantly undergoing change and are more difficult to control. Political Science is primarily a science of observation, and not of experiment.
6. No Neutrality and Objectivity:
Objectivity which characterizes the study of physical sciences is lacking in political studies. Political scientists cannot take a totally impartial, value neutral attitude in dealing with political issues and affairs. The subjective bias of the political observer colours his judgment of political problems and his findings may be one-sided.

Arguments in support:
political science can claim to be a science in a sense of scientific method of enquiry and research based on observation , experimentation and empirical verification of facts , is fully adopted. Aristotle made a substantial contribution in the field of scientific research in the realm of political and considered it a Master cience Later, some German scholars also enrich this subject through their intellectual contribution. Most of the scholars are of the view that the science of state can be developed as a full-fledged science, through continuous research and perfection of its techniques. Through the adoption of scientific techniques of research , multi principles of universal character , can be developed in  the field of this science. The researcher is not handicapped by the paucity of data in this context.
Historical events and contemporary  realities provide him with ample material for data collection . the whole world is appears  to be a laboratory for the students of politics , feeding his observation and enriching his information. Aristotle drew up the conclusion on the basis of vast study  of political history , that autocracy and oppression pavers the way for revolutionary changes. This dictum holds good even at present , as recent historical facts stand an evidence to this effect.
To illustrate another example , most of the political scientist agree that exploitation , poverty and depression make the way for dictatorship.  This hypothesis can be verified through an examination of the recent political changes in the contemporary world. Ibn Khaldon , the celebrated Muslim sociologist and historian , has discovered some universal laws regulating a cyclic change regarding the origin , rise and fall of the rule of dynasties. At present , it is admitted on all hands , that democratic system is the best system evolved so far. Even autocratic regimes , in order to legitimize their right to rule , use the cover of democracy .

An Art determines practically the dimensions of any task and set its tone. Political science is an art as it deals with statecraft. The principles of political science , have been developed not exclusively on the basis of theoretical knowledge ; observation of facts and the experience gained from the implementation of these principles, also contribute a lot in this respect. The system of election for example , can be better appraised and evaluated if actual conduct of election is minutely observed. Most of the political theorists, have refined their concepts on the basis of political enquiry made in the routine lifr. Following are the important aspects of political science to be treated as an art.
 Political science is the science of state and government , statesmanship is an art, which is acquired through experience. Most of the books on the politics written during the medieval ages, dealt with the practical side of policies viz the primary aim of these writers was to advise the rulers  of about government policies . “the prince” of machially and siyasat nama of nizam-ul-mulk-tusi are the clear examples.
Convection :
The convection developed within every political system , from the backbone of the system , despite the fact that these are nowhere reduced to writing. The convection are not generally the product of some conscious thinking , they have spontaneous and evolutionary growth. The success of parliamentary system in Britain , owes a lot to the constitutional convections.

Experiments and observation:
Maximum importance is attached , at present ,  to experiments and observation in the field of political study and research. The premises of politics , can remain in true with the political trends of the time only if they remain responsive to environmental settings. The science of politics loses its significance and validity if is concerned merely with the mechanical application of its norms. Modern political science incites the students to be flexible in approach and broad-minded enough to consider new realities and faces new challenges; it engenders creativity among the researchers. To be a good politician , requires a knowledge of political concepts and deep insight in the trends of practical politics. At present research in different branches of political science , is pragmatic and empirical. Survey , research and statistical techniques , for instance , are borrowed to predict , on valid grounds , future course of political action.

This is an undeniable fact that the science of state and government , has furnished such concept and norms in the light of which we can decide which system is most suitable under given condition , it has also clearly portrayed the essential features and symbols of an ideal system. As a matter of fact ,it would be unjust to forfeit the claim of political science to be regarded as a science, simply because it has no permanent laws of universal character. There exist a science of state and government that has it independent rules , norms and principles that provide sufficient guideline to person involve in statecraft.
          Political Science is a body of systematized knowledge which can be applied in drafting a constitution, in day to day administration, in legislation, in foreign policy and above all in bringing about all round development of the state.
         Thus the knowledge of Political Science is made use of by statesmen, diplomats, administrators, social reformers and activists to achieve their objectives. The knowledge of Political Science is not merely of theoretical value, but it has practical utility.
       It will suffice to say in conclusion that Political Science is mainly an art.

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