Chapter

Ideas, Uncertainty, and Evolution

Mark Blyth

in Ideas and Politics in Social Science Research

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199736430
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199866106 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199736430.003.0005
Ideas, Uncertainty, and Evolution

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This chapter argues that ideational scholarship rests, implicitly or explicitly, on a particular way of looking at the world, a distinct social ontology. It uses this understanding to make the further case that unless one is practicing a self-consciously ideational social science, one might be, as Keynes famously put it, a Euclidian geometer in a non-Euclidian world. That is, to continue his geometric metaphor, we might live in world of knots and spheres, but without attending to ideas, social scientists are equipped to see only right angles and squares. In making this case, the chapter and this book as a whole move beyond the claim that ideas matter and that scholarship should “take them seriously”, and suggest instead that practicing social science without viewing ideas as fundamental to both the nature of human action and causation in social systems produces seriously misleading explanations.

Keywords: ideational scholarship; social ontology; Keynes; ideas; social science; human action; causation

Chapter.  9212 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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