A number of chapters in this book contain references to ontology and epistemology, some of them relatively lengthy (see for example, Chapters 1, 4 and 8). Perhaps more often, positions on these issues are implicit, but no less significant (see Chapters 2 and 5). Each social scientist’s orientation to his or her subject is shaped by his/her ontological and epistemological position. Even if these positions are unacknowledged, they shape the approach to theory and the methods which the social scientist uses. At first the questions raised seem difficult, but they are not issues that can be avoided. Because they shape our approach, they are like a skin not a sweater; they cannot be put on and taken off whenever the researcher sees fit. In our view, all students of political science should recognize their own ontological and epistemological positions and be able to defend them. This means they need to understand the alternative positions on these fundamental questions. As such, this chapter aims to introduce these ontological and epistemological questions in as accessible a way as possible for readers who are new to these issues.
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- A Skin Not a Sweater: Ontology and Epistemology in Political Science
- Macmillan Education UK
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- Chapter 9