The Foundations and Methods of Classical Political Science
Sebell, Dustin. “The Foundations and Methods of Classical Political Science”, Boston College, 2014. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:104184.
This dissertation is an attempt to understand and assess the presuppositions and methods of classical political science. In the first of its two parts, the dissertation examines the meaning of the traditional view, held by authorities as far removed from one another as Cicero and Hobbes, that Socrates was the founder of political philosophy. It does so by considering the intellectual autobiography that Socrates famously delivers in Plato's Phaedo. Socrates turned to the study of pre-scientific, common-sense moral and political opinions only after he had rejected, as a very young man, both the materialist and the teleological natural science of his philosophic predecessors. It is the task of the dissertation's first part to show how the general revolution in scientific thought presented in the Phaedo, a revolution known as "the Socratic turn," laid the theoretical groundwork for classical political philosophy's characteristic focus on pre-scientific, common-sense moral distinctions. After examining "the Socratic turn," the dissertation then outlines in its second part the approach to the study of politics that Aristotle advanced on the basis of it. In particular, Aristotle's statements on the method of political science in book I of the Ethics are shown to rely on the basic insights obtained through "the turn."