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A Description And Elaboration Of Reality, Power, and Ethics: A Dialogue Concerning Approaches To Political Theory

Author: RONALD J. STUPAK, PH.D. AND DAVID S. GREISLER, DPA
Published in PAM, Vol. 6 No. 1

A thin but important line needs to be drawn between a theory
creating political reality and one describing political reality. This
distinction is at the core of what continues to divide political theory: The
question is whether political scientists should strive for theories that
describe reality in the tradition of science, or should they attempt to develop
theories that describe reality in terms of what ought to be changed or
remain the same. Regardless of one’s side on this “is” versus “ought”
issue, there are common concerns beyond constructing reality that must be
addressed: namely, power, ethics, organizations, and context. Clearly, one
lives by means of theories; therefore, we hope that this article gives all
participants involved in the “is/ought” dialogue a better understanding of
what a theory is, how it can be used, how it can be abused, and its impact
on political analysis.
“Sometimes science is nudged by pioneers from the field who put studies
together in new ways and ask questions from an unexpected perspective.”
--Kathleen DesMaisons

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