20 October 2009

Political science?

This question is being asked of my own academic discipline: Field Study: Just How Relevant Is Political Science? The issues raised in the linked article are familiar to insiders, of course, but it's good that others become aware of them as well. I have one quibble with the University of Michigan's Arthur Lupia, whom author Patricia Cohen cites: "Political science can also help determine what institutions and arrangements are needed to help a dictatorship make the transition to a democracy . . . ." There is some truth to this, of course, but it raises a further question: Which deep-seated traditions are needed to support such proposed institutions and arrangements? Political science may be competent to propose favourable institutional arrangements, but it is utterly unable to establish pre-existing cultural mores capable of supporting them.

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