A Perestroikan Straw Man Answers Back: David Laitin and Phronetic Political Science
Politics and Society, Vol. 32, No. 3, September 2004, pp. 389-416, DOI: 10.1177/0032329204267290
28 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2013 Last revised: 6 Jan 2016
Date Written: September 2004
This article addresses three main issues. First, it argues that David Laitin, in a misguided critique of Bent Flyvbjerg’s book, "Making Social Science Matter," for being a surrogate manifesto for Perestroika, misrepresents the book in the extreme. Second, the article argues that Laitin’s claim that political science may become normal, predictive science in the natural science sense is unfounded; the claim is a dead end that perestroikans try to get beyond. Finally, the article proposes that political scientists substitute phronesis for episteme and, thereby, avoid the trap of emulating natural science. By doing so, political scientists may arrive at social science that is strong where natural science is weak: in the reflexive analysis and discussion of values and interests aimed at praxis, which is the prerequisite for an enlightened political, economic, and cultural development in any society.
Keywords: phronesis, Perestroika, David Laitin, philosophy of social science, context, judgment
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