Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Shamans or scientists? Positivist pseudo-science and sense-able concepts in the discipline of international relations
by En, Benjamin Seet Chong, M.S., National University of Singapore (Singapore), 2015, 192; 10006077
Abstract (Summary)

“Positivism” is an approach to social inquiry that dominates the discipline of International Relations (IR). For positivists, this dominance is justified because positivism yields us scientific knowledge of world politics. In response, my thesis reconstructs positivism’s argument and argues that positivism fails to yield evidence at least, and scientific knowledge at most. Most fundamentally, positivism fails because our present-day concepts – such as “democracy” and the “GDP” – are too ambiguous. To remedy this, I draw a lesson from two theories in Physics and Mathematics: Primitive Recursive Arithmetic and Newtonian Kinematics. I outline their method of “Lego-languages” that we in IR can use to construct unambiguous concepts. I argue that the first step to using this method, is for IR scholars to describe their sensory experience of world politics through autoethnography, and possibly, filmmaking.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor:
Commitee:
School: National University of Singapore (Singapore)
Department: Political Science
School Location: Republic of Singapore
Source: MAI 55/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Political science
Keywords:
Publication Number: 10006077
ISBN: 9781339439396
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