political science

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Political science is above all the study of power: how it is created, exercised, justified, and challenged.
As a social science, political science focuses on group power, the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of collective decision-making. Hence it leads us to consider the ethics of power, which in turn involves conceptions of community, identity, justice and citizenship. Under the banner of political science we gather the study of democracy, war, law, rights, wealth, and authority, as well as the institutions that shape and secure them.
Power may be used wisely or foolishly, rightly or cruelly, but it is always there. The contests over power and the values that should animate it give politics its drama and pathos. Naturally, then, the effort to understand politics aims not only to describe and explain, but also to improve collective life. To this end, the Political Science Department strives to cultivate in its students the habits and skills of clear thought, rigorous analysis, and effective argumentation in writing and speech.
What Is Political Science? What Should It Be?*
By Bertell Ollman
Political science is governed by five myths: l) that it studies politics; 2) that it is scientific; 3) that it is possible to study politics separated off from economics, sociology, psychology and history; 4) that the state in our democratic capitalist society is politically neutral, that is available as a set of institutions and mechanisms to whatever group wins the election; and 5) that political science, as a discipline, advances the cause of democracy.
Paradoxically, most political scientists, whose own work embodies at least some of these myths, would probably agree with a lot of the criticism that is implied in characterizing their beliefs as myths. These colleagues simply act as if they are true, because they don't know what else to do and, in some cases, may be afraid not to. How else understand a poll of 500 political scientists in l964 that showed that two out of three "agreed" or

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