INTRODUCTION: to minimize the influence of bias or

 

INTRODUCTION:

 

Even though the study of Politics can benefit from
experimental thinking, there can never be a strict comparison to elements such
as natural sciences, which, have agreed laws and make objectivity their
cornerstone, thus this essay is going to try and prove that the study of
Politics cannot be purely scientific. In order to make and develop such an
argument, this essay will look at the following key areas: the definition of
scientific method and its application to politics, in contrast with people’s
emotional nature; Comte’s positivisms and the problems associated with the
study of human behaviour; the scientific theories and the concept of neutrality
and the impossibility for it to be impartial.

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BODY:

 

Politics scholars have started adopting the scientific method
for the study of the field. This corresponds to the development and test of
theories in order to reach plausible hypotheses. Subsequently, it’s possible to
see how political scholars put their efforts into trying to imitate the
impartiality and rigor, which characterizes the natural sciences.
This approach to the subject, apart from attempting to minimize the influence
of bias or prejudice in the experiment when testing such theory, gives the
opportunity to create a hypothesis that could subsequently be applied to better
understand different scenarios.

Taking into consideration the following example made by
Kellstedt and Whitten(2013, p.27) it is possible to better understand the value
of such approach:
a course offered in 1995 on the politics of the European Union (EU) would have
taught students a list of facts and  a
particular set of rules that would have been different from the 2008 version of
the EU.
The problem is therefore that the political world is constantly changing and a
“just the facts” way of learning politics would be boring and confusing.
By contrast, a theoretical approach to politics helps us to better understand
why changes have come about and their likely impact on current and future
scenarios.

Despite the fact that the process concerning how we move from casual theories
to scientific models can be beneficial, admittedly, many questions in political
science do not lend themselves to experimentation as for “our choice of
research topics will inevitably reflect our own practical and ethical priorities, and the way in which that research is
framed and conducted is bound to reflect assumptions which – whether held
consciously, semi-consciously or unconsciously – remain of a moral and
political nature.”(Wearing, 2010)

An obvious example is how the field of terrorism studies
focuses almost exclusively on the terrorism of non-state actors, as opposed to
the greater problem of state terrorism arguing that the very existence of a
state is based on its monopoly of power. If it were different, states would not
have the right, nor be in a position, to maintain that order that is the base
of every democratic society.
Like when in the 1990s, the UK helped maintain a sanctions regime on Iraq that,
as documented by Unicef, resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of
civilians, around half of them children under the age of five. Yet of the
scores of articles produced in British international relations journals during
that time, only three discussed the sanctions regime and its appalling effects.
(Wearing, 2010)

Still, this essay doesn’t try to accuse every view of being
subjective, and each opinion of equal value. In fact, according to Comte, human
societies are natural systems whose order and progress can be studied
deliberately and rationalistically through scientific methodology. Indeed
positivism or ‘theory of knowledge based on sensory perception alone’ set the
ground basis for new understanding. Such rational perception meant all laws
defining human history could be understood scientifically, thus opening the
door to social sciences to be accepted and be based on the methodology of the
natural sciences

Yet, as stated by Gerring and Yesnowitz(2006, p.122) by
studying humans as animals we study reflexes or unintentional behaviour. When,
instead, studying humans as social beings we reflect upon human actions. This
introduces a high level of indeterminacy into the research consequently opening
the research to a high level of indeterminacy because this very own examination
may affect those actions that we are indeed studying.

It must be acknowledged, however, the benefit brought by
experimental research conducted in real-world settings such as interviews and
surveys as a way of gaining relatively accurate and unbiased background
information. Positivists, as a matter of fact, tend to favour questionnaires
because they are an impartial and objective method, where the political
scientist’s interaction and therefore its influence to the respondents is
minimum.

Despite their unbias nature there is a number of problems
concerning this kind of research, most common of all is the low response rate.
For example, Shere Hite’s sample size in her “Women and Love” (1987) report was
100,000 questionnaires but the response rate of that survey was 4.5 %.
According to Chairman Donald Rubin of the Harvard statistics department
(Newsweek, November 23, 1987), one should look for a response rate of 70 to 80
percent in order to draw valid conclusions in this type of study. (Wang 1993,
pp.172-80)

And even face to face interviews, irregardless of being
carried out using techniques and strategies that have worked well in a wide
variety of field settings and interview, face an inevitable transactional nature
of the process: interviewer and respondent both influence the quality of the
interview itself thus leading to almost certain errors in the study.(Hammond et
al., 1990, p. 451-54).

CONCLUSION:

There certainly are ways to minimize the errors or at least
assess them but it is difficult to say exactly how morality should be brought
into greater contact with empirical inquiry.
Empirical study in the social sciences is meaningless if it has no social
input. Likewise, a normative argument without empirical support may be
rhetorically persuasive, but it will not have demonstrated anything about the
world out there. Good Politics must integrate both elements; it must be
empirically grounded, and it must be relevant to human concerns (Gerring and
Yesnowitz, 2006, p.133). Therefore, although scientific approach to politics,
when appropriate, can certainly yield benefits, this essay argued that the
study of politics depends on the morality and circumstances of the time, and is
consequently impossible to be completely objective and unbiased.

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