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Nature of Political Science

  • There is a great deal of controversy among scholars about whether Political Science is a Science or an Art.
  • Aristotle considered it as the 'master science'.
  • Other modern writers like Godwin, Hobbes, Vico, Hume, Frederick Pollock, John Seely, and Lord Bryce consider it a science.
  • On the other hand, scholars like Mosca, Burke, Buckle, Comte, Maitland question its claim as a science since it has failed to act up to the standard of science.

Political Science is a Science

  • It is a social science like sociology, psychology and economics
  • It uses scientific methods of study as;
  1. It takes nothing for granted
  2. It insists that all generalizations made be based on observed facts
  3. It will not accept any generalization as final and irrevocable
  • Like all social sciences, it is an inexact science.

    It is a science:
    • Systematic Study is possible
    • Experiments are possible (the whole world is a laboratory)
    • Objective Study is possible (It does not deal with lifeless things but man, his mind and his institutions which undergo constant changes)

      Political Science is NOT a Science

      1. Lack of Consensus on Nature of Political Science:
      • There is no agreement among political scientists as to its methods, principles and conclusions.

      2. No Certainty and Universality in the Laws of Political Science:
      • It lacks uniform principles or laws that are universally valid.
      • The generalizations of the natural sciences are frequently described as laws.
      • But the generalizations put forward by social sciences including Political Science are endlessly disputed as they do not possess the same degree of certainty or universality.
      • At best, they are 'tendencies', not 'laws'.

      3. No Predictability:
      • The political behaviour of man is unpredictable and hence it is difficult to arrive at exact and definite views and conclusions.
      • Generalizations in social sciences lack the quality of predictability which is regarded as a major characteristic of the 'laws' of natural sciences.
      • The latter make forecasts about future developments possible.

      4. No Law of Cause and Effect:
      • There are many laws in natural science - a particular cause will lead to a particular effect.
      • But this does not happen in Political Science.
      • There is no certainty that the factors which caused the French Revolution of 1789 will lead to a similar revolution in another country.

      5. Not Possible to Conduct Experiments in any Laboratory:
      • It is impossible to apply to Political Science rigorous scientific methods of investigation.
      • General statements are difficult to establish because of the problem of their verifiability.
      • Political phenomena are characterized by uncertainty, variableness and a lack of order and continuity.
      • Laboratory experiments are not possible in Political Science as in the case of Physics or Chemistry. 
      • Social phenomena based on human behaviour are constantly undergoing change and are more difficult to control. 
      • Political Science is primarily a science of observation, and not of experiment.

      6. No Neutrality and Objectivity:
      • Objectivity which characterizes the study of physical sciences is lacking in political studies.
      • Political scientists cannot take a totally impartial, value neutral attitude in dealing with political issues and affairs.
      • The subjective bias of the political observer colours his judgment of political problems and his findings may be one-sided.

      Political Science is an ART

      • Political Science is both a science and an art.
      • An art is defined as the practical application of knowledge for the achievement of a particular end.
      • Political Science is a body of systematized knowledge which can be applied in drafting a constitution, in day to day administration, in legislation, in foreign policy and above all in bringing about all round development of the state.
      • Thus the knowledge of Political Science is made use of by statesmen, diplomats, administrators, social reformers and activists to achieve their objectives.
      • The knowledge of Political Science is not merely of theoretical value, but it has practical utility.


      • It will suffice to say in conclusion that Political Science is mainly an art. 
      • Its knowledge is utilized for the good of all.
      • Further, as a result of significant use of behavioral method which is scientific in nature, political science is becoming a science. 
      • Thus, Political Science is a combination of art and science.
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