Important read for comparativist political scientists

This is from Tom Pepinsky (comparative grad students, read all his stuff):

The most common misconception that I encounter is that political science is divided along a cleavage of quantitative scholars and rational choice theorists versus qualitative or historical scholars. The errors here are two. First, this view lumps together “rational choice theory” with quantitative methodology, which both mistakenly equates theory and methodology and misses that some of the strongest critiques of rationalism in political science come from a quantitative behavioral origin (and vice versa). Second, it misses the extent to which quantitative methods are used in service of historical arguments, and the extent to which rationalist arguments are frequently grounded in qualitative insights. There is probably much more to write on this, but the idea of a discipline characterized by this singular cleavage on this particular axis always makes me cringe. It is probably not even anachronistic, just plain false.

…..quantitative social scientists are the biggest critics of other quantitative social scientists. This is a result of the identification revolution in the social sciences (in economics often termed the “credibility revolution“), which grounds statistical methodology in a theory of causality. The stakes for current quantitative research are extraordinarily high, because the body of data that can be analyzed using quantitative tools is much larger than the set of credible causal inferences that can be drawn from that data. For one recent articulation of how this new identification revolution, see Samii 2016 (pdf, ungated).

The post mainly addresses methodological concerns (about political science) often raised by scholars in the humanities.

Read the whole post here.


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