Dr Efanodor Harriet O.   (Published 2017)

Dr Harriet O.
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Lecture Note

Lecture three

The Science of Politics: The Scientific Nature of the Study of Politics

Topic outline;

  • The meaning of science

  • Cannons of science

  • The scientific nature of the study of politics

  • Political scientist and the use of scientific patterns

Expected learning outcome
At the end of the topic, students are expected to be able to:

  • Explain the scientific nature of political science and;

  • Demonstrate how political scientist uses scientific patterns in explaining social realities.

The Science of Politics

(Oyediran, 2003) Questions have been raised over the years whether or not politics can be studied scientifically. The study of politics is generally regarded as scientific. The above make two questions pertinent. First, why is the study of politics described scientific? Secondly, how scientific is the study of politics.

  • Oyediran noted that Robert Dahl regards political analysis as both Art and science. According to him Political science is an Art when many aspects of political analysis are easily acquired by practice and training under the supervision of a person who is skilled in political analysis. Political science is a science when students of politics test their generalisations and theories against data of experience by means of observation, classification and measurement.

The meaning of science

  • The word science is derived from a Latin word “SCIRE” which means “TO KNOW”.

  • Therefore science is a systematic method of knowing.

Definitions of Science

  • Science is the observation of facts.

  • It is the systematic observation of nature, events, and conditions in order to discover facts about them and to formulate laws and principles based on these facts.

  • It is an organized body of knowledge that is derived from observations and can be verified or tested by further investigations.

Canons of science as identified by Ekpekurede and Umukoro (2005) are;

  • Observation: the

  • Classification

  • Explanation

  • generalization

  • Prediction, replication and objectivity.

Limitations to scientific findings

  • John Dalton’s Atomic theory.

  • Limits of observation

  • Reactive effects of the experimental environment.

  • Reactive effects of pre-testing

  • Limits of knowledge and ability of the researcher.

  • Failure to interpret data correctly.

  • Moral and ethical consideration

  • The influence of valves.

The scientific nature of the study of politics

  • Robert Dahl, David Truman and David Easton claimed that they can use the same methods as the physical scientist in the study of politics.

  • Political scientist employs the following scientific methods in their analysis in order to explain and predict.

  • Observation

  • Classification

  • Explanation

  • generalization

  • Prediction, replication and objectivity.

How does political scientist use scientific patterns in the study of politics?

  • Observation- political scientist begins his inquiry by observation and description of social phenomena.

  • Then he classifies the subject matter before explanation .i.e. dependent and independent variables.

  • In explaining why an event occurs, the political scientist tries to establish a link between the variables under study. Explanation seeks to identify the conditions that produced or account for, or lead to a particular situation. By so doing, we are stating a hypothesis.

  • Then the political scientist employ quantification by looking for other contexts in which these conditions also appear. The larger the number of instances, the more acceptable is the hypotheses.

  • Following from the logical explanation, the political scientist predict social reality.

Argument against the scientific nature of the study of politics

  • The political scientist

  • The subject matter


  • The study of politics is generally regarded as science because political scientist employs scientific procedures in their analysis in order to explain and predict social realities.

  • Political phenomenon can be observed, verified and quantified with a view to generating laws that can be used to explain or study political issues or situations.

Oyediran O. 2003 Introduction to Political Science. Ibadan: Daybis Limited

Ekpekurede, W. and Umukoro (2010) Political Science-An Introduction. Nigeria: AMBIK Press




Item Type: Lecture note(non-copyrighted)
Format: Word document,   24.87 KB
Copyright: Creative Commons LicenseCreative Commons license
Keywords: politics, science, nature, study
Department: Political Science and Public Administration
Field of Study: Political Science
Uploaded By: Izevbekhai Michael Nurudeen
Date Added: 26 Oct 2017 10:48am
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2017
Lecture URL: http://www.edouniversity.edu.ng/oer/lecturenotes/the_scientific_nature_of_the_study_of_politics

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