How to Map Arguments in Political Science
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In order to venture into explanations of political action we need a map of our basic options: what types of examinations are out there? Even advanced students and scholars can find the landscape difficult to navigate. They confront a bewildering maze of partial typologies, contrasting uses of terms, and debates over what counts as an explanation.
How to Map Arguments in Political Science provides a basic map and toolkit for analysis in political science that references political examples and a wide range of material from the political science literature. While common terms--structural, institutional, ideational, and psychological logics--form the sectors of the map, this book is unique in its arguments regarding how to best define these terms. Adopting a systematic and exhaustive framework, it defines the main analytical approaches in ways that facilitate both competition and combination. Finally, it leads to revisions of prevailing views on philosophy of science and research design to encourage more open and rigorous debates.
The secondary points concern the location of any particular literature or work within the typology and my criticisms of unclear vocabularies or arguments. Surely some will object that I have read some important ﬁgure or literature in an unusual or incomplete way. As long as I have successfully communicated the framework, however, I will be happy to admit that these ﬁner points may be debatable—especially if such debates encourage us all to read carefully with a sharp eye for the core logic of
structural conditions constrained 91 How to Map Arguments in Political Science or propelled people toward a certain course of action. At ﬁrst glance it may seem harder to support the negative claim that no causal vectors shut down contingency than to argue positively for one causal vector, but these arguments follow the same process. Arguing positively that some range of variation traces to one cause requires us to show, in principle, that no other cause accounted for some of that variation.
an explicit part of the ‘structural-functionalist’ school that dominated this era (Janos 1986). 125 How to Map Arguments in Political Science view of culture ﬁt well in the affective/ends/coherent/tight position on my map. Although this school enjoyed a ‘renaissance’ in political science in the late 1980s, the second major strand of ideational logic surged to the fore around the same time. It coalesced around the opposite set of logical links, between cognitive/means/incoherent positions that
suggests that all human beings tend to share similar interpretive ﬁlters under certain structural conditions. Like with Durkheim, human thinking and action is ﬁrst bounded by a small set of psychological possibilities, each of which functions best in certain economic phases. Ideational logic enters only in residual international variations. In a slightly subtler vein, some ‘cultural’ scholarship drops the underlying structural evolution of Durkheim, Parsons, or Inglehart but retains their goal of
chosen carefully to avoid selection bias, especially avoiding the mistake of choosing cases on the basis of shared outcomes (selecting on the dependent variable). Once we have constructed a universe of cases appropriate to the general patterns we seek to explore, we should use the cross-case logic of statistical regression to evaluate the strength of these patterns and their correlations with a variety of hypothetical causal conditions. Many intelligent caveats accompany this advice. They