Posted by: newperspectives85 | November 19, 2011

Political Science, Thought, and Philosophy

What is political science and how does it differ from political thought and political philosophy?
a.  Political thought:
–any kind of informed political conversation; conversing with one or more people with anything involving politics
–the discussion of politics when you know what you’re talking about
–what we see on good news programs: 2 or 3 people reading a newspaper and they’re discussing what is going on
–informal; no systematic way of approaching it
–example:  have a discussion at lunch over what is happening in the Middle East or in Washington; since you have read about the events you can discuss it with them
–no fancy terminology
b.  Political philosophy
–the attempt to figure out what is right political action
–what is the moral purpose of human action
–what are the moral means by which a human being can undertake action
—-What is the best way for politicians to act politically; how “should” people act
–example:  social contract theory:  sit down and figure out, based on his or her perceptions, why states exist or where do rights come from
–Another example may deal with how a monarchy should rule
–If one lived in the late eighteenth century, and know the past history with monarchs in power, they may come up with an idea on how they should rule while discussing the Constitution – example
–more systematic than political philosophy
c.  Political Science
–along with political philosophy…
—-systematic, formal language used, approach problems in a formal way; informed and have very specific type of problems they deal with.
–How does political science differ from political thought and philosophy?
—-less concerned about what people should do (political philosophy deals with this), more concerned with what people actually do; observes the human animal; interested in human beings’ interactions involving power
—-what people do; it’s about observing people in their interactions with politics; means how they vote or respond to when bills or legislature is passed for example; as the vote or response to when bills or legislature is passed, they are displaying power or influence over whether someone is elected locally or nationally, or if a bill becomes national law.
–What does it mean to interact with politics:  Politics includes war, taxation, electoral process…anything involving power (This is what political scientist are involved in – people’s interactions with politics)
–Why?  2 things
a.    Political scientists want to explain why human beings do what they do
b.  They would like to predict when humans are going to do certain things
Political science is like meteorology:  trying to explain something complicated; predict what will happen (80% chance or 80% of the time); Keep good enough an explanation that we can say 80% of the time predict what people will do.
Example:  voter behavior

Essay format:
1. Distinguish between the following concepts, giving examples of each: political thought, political philosophy, and political science
People must know three concepts basic to politics. Those concepts are political thought, political philosophy, and political science. Political thought is informal as it is about conversing with your friends and family about current events that interest you. Political philosophy and political science are more formal and systematic. The main difference between them is one deals with how people “should” act, while the other is about how people “do” act. To start off easy, one may look at political thought since they are more likely to participate in this than political philosophy or political science.
Political thought is about conversing with one or more people about anything involving politics. Dr. Eric Smith (2011) states that “political thought is any kind of informed political conversation and the discussion of politics when you know what you are talking about” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CH6Nn1wNdqc&feature=youtu.be). To engage in political thought, you have to keep up with the news on a daily basis. When keeping up with the news, also do research regarding current events: look up the history of that particular event and look up several sources on the same issue. As you do this, you will begin to form your own opinion about politics and be able to express them to others such as your friends or family. An example of political thought could be that you and one or two of your friends is having a discussion at lunch over what is happening in the Middle East or in Washington. Two of your friends may ask how you feel about the persecution in Sudan. Since you have read about the persecutions, you can discuss it with them. With this, you can have a long conversation with your friends, they can share their opinions with you, and everyone can walk away learning much more than they knew before. Most political thought is informal, as there is no fancy terminology, and it is about stating and forming your own opinion based on what you have read in a newspaper, book, or internet. However, political philosophy goes more into developing a theory on how people should act than just discussing a political even.
While political thought is informal, political philosophy is more formal and systematic. With political philosophy, one sits down and figure out what is the best way for politicians and people to act politically. It is about how people “should” act. According to Dr. Eric Smith (2011), “political philosophy is the attempt to figure out what is the right political action” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CH6Nn1wNdqc&feature=youtu.be). An example of political philosophy could include one sitting down and figuring out, based on his or her perceptions, why states exist or where do rights come from. Based on his or her perception, a social contract theory may be developed. Another example may deal with how a monarchy should rule. If one was living in the late eighteenth century, and know the past history with monarchs in power, they may come up with an idea on how they should rule while discussing the Constitution. Political philosophy deals with theories on how people should act, while political science deals with how people actually act.
Political science is more concerned about what people actually do. It is about observing people in their interactions with politics. This means how they vote or respond to when bills or legislature is passed for example. As the vote or respond to when bills or legislature is passed, they are displaying power or influence over whether someone is elected locally or nationally, or if a bill becomes national law. Political scientists are interested in the interactions with power for two reasons. According to Dr. Eric Smith (2011), “political scientists want to explain why human beings do what they do, and would like to predict when human beings are going to do certain things” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CH6Nn1wNdqc&feature=youtu.be). It is a complicated process scientists what to explain and based on patterns, they would like to give a good explanation of what people will do most of the time.
Political thought, political philosophy, and science all deal with politics in some way. When talking about current events, believe it or not, you are engaging in political thought. Political philosophy deals with thinking about ways of how people should get things done or what is the moral way of accomplishing something. Political science is about the scientist’s quest at predicting how people will act, and is interested in interactions with power. These three concepts set up the basics of politics.

Smith, Eric D. (2011). “What are Political Thought, Philosophy, and Science?” from Youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CH6Nn1wNdqc&feature=youtu.be. Retrieved August 5, 2011.

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Responses

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