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‘Classical’ and ‘Scientific’ Theory

  • John C. Garnett

Abstract

For most men of affairs the term ‘theory’ has pejorative overtones — hence the commonly voiced criticism that although some projected policy may be alright in theory, in practice it leaves a great deal to be desired. Theory is believed to obscure rather than illuminate reality by getting between the observer and the raw data of facts and experience. To the extent that he is influenced by it, the practitioner is unlikely either to make an accurate diagnosis of the problem which confronts him or to devise appropriate prescriptions for its solution. The uselessness of theory in the field of international politics has been commented on many times. Roger Hilsman quotes one secretary of state as referring to the attics of foundations being stuffed with junk.1 And Z. Brzezinski is reported as saying that roughly 90 per cent of the research done in universities is useless and irrelevant to policy-makers.2

Keywords

Political Science International Relation Scientific Approach World Politics International Politics 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes and References

  1. 1.
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Copyright information

© John C. Garnett 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • John C. Garnett
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WalesUK

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