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This introductory chapter provides an overview of global politics, starting with an account of the global political sphere as a specialized area of study—more conventionally known as the discipline of International Relations (IR)—and including an explanation of the distinction between the ‘global’ and the ‘international’. It also addresses the extent to which the world is ‘globalized’, even as some pundits herald a halt to globalization and a return to the closed politics of nationalism. The chapter then explores the history of globalization, which provides an essential backdrop to the understanding of the phenomenon in the present, and the challenges to it. This includes attention to the interweaving of globalization’s political, economic, social, and cultural dimensions and some of the implications for the current state-based world order. Finally, the chapter considers the role of theory and method, including concerns raised by the notion of a ‘post-truth’ world.

Chapter

Gianfranco Pellegrino

This chapter illustrates epistemology, which is the discipline devoted to the study of knowledge and justified belief. Epistemology concerns issues of the creation and dissemination of knowledge in particular fields of inquiry. Assuming that knowledge is distinguished from mere opinion for its being true — a common assumption in epistemology — truth is also connected to epistemology. In the social sciences, epistemology is a source for methodological criteria employed in research, as well as for guidance on ontological issues — such as the existence of theoretical entities and the relationships between the social and the natural world. The chapter then looks at the divide between scholars who understand social sciences as positive, objective disciplines, according to the model of natural sciences, and scholars who understand social sciences as less precise, more humanistic disciplines, with a looser standard of objectivity. This divide refers in its turn to an even broader topic, namely the discussion about when and whether objective knowledge can be obtained in the social sciences, and on the very meaning of ‘objectivity’ and ‘knowledge’. This topic belongs to the general field of epistemology.

Chapter

Heikki Patomäki

This chapter addresses scientific realism. After the heyday of empiricism in the interwar period and its immediate aftermath, many critical reactions to empiricism seemed to suggest scientific realism. It was widely agreed that scientific theories make references to things that cannot be directly observed (or at least seen), and thus emerged the issue of the status of non-observables. As scientific realism became increasingly dominant, new philosophical stances such as Bas C. van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism were often defined in opposition to it. Van Fraassen understands scientific realism as a claim that science aims to give us, in its theories, a literally true story of what the world is like; and acceptance of a scientific theory involves the belief that it is true. More in line with established forms of scientific realism, Ilkka Niiniluoto talks about verisimilitude, or truth-likeness. This concept is supposed to avoid the consequences of claiming to have access to the truth itself. The chapter then considers how the social sciences seem to pose difficulties for scientific realism.

Chapter

Frederick Rosen

This chapter examines some of Socrates' key political ideas. Socrates was the first philosopher to see the connections and the potential opposition between the search for truth and the world of politics. Among Socrates' most important ideas are the so-called Socratic paradoxes, the method of question and answer (the elenchus), and the use of craft analogies. The chapter first provides a biographical background on Socrates and some information about him before discussing the Socratic paradoxes and the elenchus. It then describes the trial of Socrates through Plato's dialogues Apology and Crito. Socrates shows how the quest for wisdom challenges the acknowledged experts and leaders in society, but at the same time looks for points of reconciliation so that politics will not be wholly devoid of contact with truth and justice. The chapter also considers Socrates' political philosophy and concludes with an assessment of his attachment to Athenian democracy.

Chapter

Paul Patton

This chapter examines Michel Foucault's approach to the history of systems of thought, which relied upon a distinctive concept of discourse he defined in terms of rules governing the production of statements in a given empirical field at a given time. The study of these rules formed the basis of Foucault's archaeology of knowledge. The chapter first considers Foucault's conception of philosophy as the critique of the present before explaining how his criticism combined archaeological and genealogical methods of writing history and operated along three distinct methodological axes corresponding to knowledge, power, and ethics. It then describes Foucault's archaeological approach to the study of systems of thought or discourse, along with his historical approach to truth. It also discusses Foucault's theory of freedom, his views on the nature and tasks of government, and his ideas about subjectivity in relation to care for the self.

Chapter

Kevin Kalomeni and Claudius Wagemann

This chapter examines qualitative comparative analysis (QCA), which strives to bridge the methodological rift between case study-based research and quantitative studies. QCA belongs to the broader family of configurational comparative methods (CCMs). From an analytical perspective, QCA can be distinguished from quantitative approaches. The emphasis shifts from covariance to the analysis of set relations. Being strongly tied to a profound theoretical and conceptual reasoning which is typical for comparison in general, the analysis of set relations is based on three steps: first, a score is attributed to a social phenomenon (representing either a dichotomous or a graded set membership), usually in relation to other phenomena. Second, necessary conditions are defined. Third, through the help of a truth table analysis, (combinations of) sufficient conditions are analysed.