Idioms of Inquiry

Critique and Renewal in Political Science

Edited by Terence Ball

Subjects: Political Theory
Series: SUNY series in Political Theory: Contemporary Issues
Paperback : 9780887064586, 255 pages, July 1987
Hardcover : 9780887064579, 255 pages, July 1987

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Table of contents



Part I. Rationality and Progress in Political Inquiry
1. Is There Progress in Political Science?
Terence Ball
2. Resituating Explanation
James Farr
3. Rational Choice Theories
Russell Hardin

Part II. Interpretation and Critique
4. Deadly Hermeneutics; or, Sinn and the Social Scientist
Terence Ball
5. Toward a Critical Political Science
Stephen K. White
6. Interpretation, Genealogy, and Human Agency
Michael T. Gibbons

Part III. Beyond Empiricism and Hermeneutics
7. Political Inquiry: Beyond Empiricism and Hermeneutics
Fred Dallmayr
8. After Empiricism: The Realist Alternative
Jeffrey C. Isaac

Part IV. Political Science and Political Discourse
9. Male-Ordered Politics: Feminism and Political Science
Kathy E. Ferguson
10. Political Science and Political Choice: Opacity, Freedom, and Knowledge
J. Donald Moon




Idioms of Inquiry reflects the most recent and creative thinking in the field of political theory. The contributors agree that the old orthodox political theory is no longer viable, arguing instead for a pluralism of approaches. Each takes a particular idiom of inquiry on its own terms and analyzes its plausibility and internal limitations. The idioms discussed cover the current leading theories: rational choice, Popperian situational analysis, hermeneutics, phenomenology, critical theory, feminism, Foucauldian deconstructionism, and metascientific realism.

Terence Ball is Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of Civil Disobedience and Civil Deviance, editor of Political Theory and Praxis, and co-editor of After Marx.


"The essays engage in a conversation with one another, weaving ideas, perspectives, and arguments taken up earlier with those addressed later—not in chorus anvil fashion, but in the form of a dialogue among philosophically sophisticated scholars adopting sometimes complementary, sometimes divergent, readings of overlapping concerns and ideas. " — Ernest J. Yanarella