This module aims to introduce and evaluate a variety of approaches to political theory, focusing in particular on normative and analytic approaches. It aims to provide a critical overview of different political philosophies; and to consider a range of methods and research strategies for those embarking upon graduate study in political theory and analysis, broadly construed.
It is traditional to divide the study of political theory into normative and empirical domains. Normative political theorists endeavour to construct, evaluate, justify and criticize the principles and norms underlying political practices, whereas positive political theorists are concerned to explain, understand and interpret political practices and events by constructing and testing abstract models of those practices. In recent years, this clear division has become somewhat blurred, as normative political theorists seek to ground their research in the description of empirical phenomena, or at least to speak to matters of empirical import, while positive political theorists have become more attentive to the implicit or explicit values that structure their research. The task of this module is to sensitize students to the presuppositions underpinning different approaches to questions of description, explanation, and critique.
- Module Supervisor: David Axelsen