Leave a Comment or Request

Hey there,

I’d like to keep this as terse as possible. If you enjoy the content of this blog or have any comments at all that you’d like to leave in general (about the blog or myself), you’re welcome to post them here. Additionally, if you’re interested in a particular kind of topic and would like to know more about it, I’d be happy to write about it or conduct the research on your behalf (provided my time schedule will allow it). If that’s the case, you’re free to leave a request for an essay in the comments here. Additionally, if you’d like me to evaluate an essay that you’ve read or written, I’d be happy to do that too.

Thanks for reading,

Clyde

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10 thoughts on “Leave a Comment or Request

  1. I like your blog. You write thoughtful, articulate essays on topics that I am interested in.

    If you have time, I would appreciate a summary of what political science is, what topics it covers, and what methodology it uses to address those topics. I have a degree in philosophy, which I understand is a related field, but I don’t really know anything about political science.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, thanks for tuning in. I’m glad that you enjoy the content.

      Yeah, I can absolutely sure up an essay on what political science is for you. I can’t guarantee when it will be out but I do have some time to write this weekend. Thanks for the recommendation as well.

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      1. Hey there, Will.

        I haven’t realized how much time has passed since your request on the essay about the field of political science. I apologize about the length of time that it’s been. Truthfully, between the cumbersome nature of my work recently and spending time with my wife on the weekends, I’ve not really had a lot of free time to myself. In addition to that, my interests have been diverged greatly from the field of political science lately and so writing that essay has seemed more like a chore than anything else. Rather than leaving you hanging though, I have done some research on the matter and I’d be happy to email you the journal articles that describe the field quite suitably. I will, in the meantime, likely attempt to get back into essay-writing on topics that are most immediately of interest before potentially moving to this essay in the future.

        On the matter of political science, though, I will note that the particular boundaries of political science are contentious. Where this field ends and related fields begin is a matter of debate. As you may no doubt know from your own studies, political science is strongly rooted in philosophy. It’s generally acknowledged that Aristotle is the father of political science, particularly due to his focus on empiricism and structured analysis of constitutions and political systems, though I believe I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here. The subject matter of politics is, as was said by David Easton, the authoritative allocation of resources. The concept of a resource within political science is any thing which can be used to advance a particular end. That is, we can think of resources as raw materials, such as lumber, which can be used toward the end of constructing houses. We can also think of workers as resources as they also advance the end of constructing houses (or whatever the goal may be). More abstractly, time, energy, and so forth, may be similarly thought of as resources as their management can be used toward particular ends. Political science focuses on political communities, which are essentially collections of people who in some manner determine how the resources in their particular space are to be utilized. When people come together to utilize resources, they have formed a political community. So, what the field of political science aims at understanding is how these resources within political communities are allocated. The remaining word, authority, designates that there exists some dominant decision-making power within that community. Is it an authoritarian leader, a democratic group, or what? The specific form of authority matters not. All that matters is that there is some dominant power which determines how these resources are used within the community, and that is exactly what political science focuses on.

        There are various methodologies that come into play within political science and there are different ways of categorizing methodologies, though the most broad divisions (as noted by David Close, Eric Mintz, and Osvaldo Croci) are empirical analysis, normative analysis, and policy analysis. Empirical analysis is analyzing why things occur within political systems. This is the typical scientific angle of beginning from what is the case and moving to a better understanding of why said thing is the case. For example, empirical analysis is used to answer questions of why wealthier citizens are more likely to vote in elections, why Hitler came to power, and so forth. It begins from an established fact and looks for the causes. Particularly, empirical analysis is done by comparing different political circumstances to generate generalizations and testable theories for the purposes of developing a greater understanding about political phenomena. Normative analysis is what, I suspect, you’d be most familiar with. Normative analysis is political philosophy, which is the process of analyzing how politics should be organized and what ideals should be pursued. Should we pursue a society that emphasizes the individualism of people or should we pursue one that emphasizes collectivism? Does it align better with an ideal of individualism to have an anarchist system or a democratic one? These are the questions that normative analysis seeks to answer. Lastly, there is policy analysis, which shares commonalities with both empirical analysis and normative analysis. It is the process of using knowledge of past political phenomena to solve current political problems. For example, the problem of low voter turnout is a problem that policy analysis would seek to resolve. Why has low voter turnout occurred? What improves voter turnout? Policy analysis overlaps with empirical analysis in that it builds off of the understanding of empirical analysis, though it actively uses that information to pursue specific tangible ends. It is similar to normative analysis in that it also theorizes about what objectives are to be pursued and what means are to be used, though it focuses readily on tangible problems and solutions rather than overarching philosophical goals and orientations. This is just one way of dividing up the methodologies of political science, though it is one that I have found particularly useful.

        As it may be apparent at this point, political science will no doubt overlap with its related fields. The question of how to increase voter turnout may thrust political science into answering questions about the state’s current legal framework. In fact, as politics has much to do with the organization of political communities and as law is fundamental to such organization, the fields of law and political science are interwoven quite closely. It is similar with psychology and sociology, which focus on the behavior of individuals and groups. Political science will merely take the groundwork laid by psychology and sociology and place this within the political context of the authoritative allocation of resources. So, this is why there is much contention about where those boundaries are. Little needs to be said about philosophy as well, which is the field that has underpinned political science throughout its history. Thus, while political science is a distinct field that focuses on a particular subject matter, it is simultaneously a blend of many other social science fields and it both borrows from and gives back to them with its expansion.

        Without writing up a full-fledged essay with citations, I hope my commentary here will be satisfactory enough to help you understand the field a little better. As mentioned before, I’d be happy to provide you with journal articles and similar resources if you were looking to dig deeper into the field.

        Thanks for your interest and support,
        Clyde

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Just to give you an update, I haven’t forgotten about this request. I’ve been terribly busy as of late but I’ve just gotten my coursework out of the way for this term. So, I’ll probably dedicate time to continue writing that blog up this weekend. Stay tuned, and thanks again for the request!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No problem. You may certainly ask. So, I’ve been quite interested in the art of persuasion and rhetoric lately and, by trade, I’m actually a salesperson. I’ve been meaning to venture into the topic more but haven’t made much headway until now. I’ve also been doing a lot of writings and lectures for the company I work for over the last number of months so writing on the topic has been fitting in quite well with what I’m already doing. That tends to be the reason for the shift, though there are a few philosophical and political essays I plan to write soon based on what I’m currently reading. I won’t make any promises now but that’s been my focus recently.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I will look forward to the philosophical essays. By the way, I would encourage you to look into Ayn Rand. You seemed interested in her ideas when I used them to defend the axioms and perception in our other conversation about a year ago.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Fair. Ah, yes. Ayn Rand is quite far down the list of priorities for reading right now but I intend to get to their work at some juncture. I appreciate the recommendation though–it bolsters the importance on said list.

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      4. She should definitely be higher on that list, particularly if you’re studying both political science and philosophy.

        I know there’s a cottage industry of academics patting each other on the back for telling each other Rand is a poor thinker, but when they try to characterize her ideas, particularly her ethics, they often get it completely wrong. James Rachels wrote a popular introduction to ethics that ascribes an argument to Rand that she never made and completely avoids discussing her actual argument for egoism. Rosalind Hursthouse’s characterization in her book on virtue ethics is even less accurate.

        As a philosophy student, you should be forming your own views of thinkers like Rand, not going by what academics tell you to think. She’s a big name in politics, so reading Rand might give you the ability to better understand the worldview of politicians like Rand Paul.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I will say that it’s not due to any preconceptions about her work that she is not high on my list of individuals whose works I wish to study. Rather, it is a matter of interest and curiosity. At this time, my tastes lead me in the direction of the weird horror fiction of Thomas Ligotti (M.R. James and Arthur Machen as well), the aesthetic ideas of Edmund Burke, the philosophical inquiry into suicide from Albert Camus, and the stoicism of Marcus Aurelius. Not just that, but I recently purchased a textbook on the art of rhetoric, so it is in that vein that my interests are very much departed from Ayn Rand at this time.

        Yes, there certainly is. If anything, it compels me more toward the reading of her ideas to understand what all the fuss is about, ahah.

        As a human being, I should be forming my own views on all matters and I intend to continue doing so. I have no opinions on Ayn Rand as I’ve not read her work. I intend to get to it eventually but I have a laundry list of things which occupy me at this time.

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