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Methods of Political Reasoning

William Seal Carpenter
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 31, No. 2 (Sep., 1925), pp. 213-226
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2764469
Page Count: 14
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Methods of Political Reasoning
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Abstract

Political theory in the past has been marked by frequent attempts to set up a universal theory of the state. Because of the desperately complex character of the materials of political reasoning, these attempts have failed. Nevertheless it is possible for political science to develop its own technique. In this process the intimate connection between history and political science has given rise to the historical analogy. Although imperfect, the historical analogy is preferable to a priori reasoning from supposed fundamental principles. The latter method, developed by the Benthamites, exerted a vicious influence in political thought throughout the greater part of the nineteenth century. It has now been discarded in favor of the statistical method advocated by Jevons. But mere statistical data remain unintelligible without being related to various facts of social life. There is needed a logic through which to synthesize the essential elements common to the social sciences. Sociology, having established the so-called social hypothesis, should undertake the task of assisting the special social sciences by the development of a new logic through which the discoveries made in each science may be made readily available to students of allied sciences.

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