INTRODUCTION: of the European Union (EU) would have



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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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

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).


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
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.