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1(a) Normative approach in Political Science (10) (2023)

Updated: Apr 14


Approach:

1.    Introduction: Define the normative approach.

2.    Body

a.    Explain the broad features of the approach.

b.    Highlight the work of normative philosophers.

c.     Give criticism of the approach and compare it with other approaches.

3.    Conclusion: Conclude with academic relevance of the theory.

Introduction

1.    The normative approach in political science is an approach that seeks to identify and evaluate the values and ideals that should guide political action and decision-making.

Body

1.    Normative political theorists are concerned with questions such as what is just, what is fair, and what is good, and they seek to develop and defend principles and theories that can help to answer these questions.

2.    Some of the key concepts in normative political theory include justice, liberty, equality, rights, democracy, and citizenship.

3.    Normative approach in political science has a long and rich history, dating back to ancient Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, who explored the nature and purpose of the state and the best form of government.

a.    It also flourished during Enlightenment period, when thinkers such as Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, and Mill developed various theories of social contract, natural rights, democracy, and utilitarianism.

b.    It continues to be relevant and influential in contemporary political theory as seen in Rawls work, as it addresses various issues and challenges such as human rights, global justice, multiculturalism, feminism, environmentalism, etc.

4.    The normative approach has some distinctive features, such as:

a.    It is based on logic and reason, rather than empirical evidence or observation. It relies on rational arguments and moral judgments to support or criticize political actions or institutions.

b.    It is prescriptive or evaluative, rather than descriptive or explanatory. It seeks to determine what ought to be or what should be done in politics, rather than what is or what has been done.

c.     It is idealistic or aspirational, rather than realistic or pragmatic. It aims to establish the highest standards or goals for political action or institutions, rather than accepting existing or feasible ones.

5.    Advantages of normative approach:

a.    The normative approach provides a moral and ethical basis for political action or institutions.

b.    It also challenges the status quo and promotes social change and progress.

c.     It also fosters critical thinking and public debate about political values and ideals.

6.    Disadvantages of normative approach:

a.    It can be subjective and biased, as different individuals or groups may have different values or ideals.

b.    It can also be impractical or utopian, as it may ignore the complexities or constraints of real-world politics.

c.     It can also be dogmatic or intolerant, as it may reject or dismiss alternative or opposing views.

d.    CB Macpherson has highlighted how normative approaches seem far removed from real world scenarios, and have little applicability.

Conclusion

1.             To conclude, the normative approach in political science is an approach that seeks to identify and evaluate the values and ideals that should guide political action and decision-making.

2.             It has a long and rich history, and it continues to be relevant and influential in contemporary political theory.

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