Political Theory/Empirical and Normative Theories

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Empirical vs. normative theories[edit | edit source]

These two concepts are the crux of what every theory is built upon. When attempting to develop a concrete theoretical approach to politics, one can ask two different kinds of questions. Empirical questions (What happened and why?) and normative questions (What should have happened). It is however important to note that some of these claims are not always practical and for that inapplicable to some extents

The fundamental principle of human understanding is to interpret how and why various aspects of the world operate. Both natural and social sciences utilize this method of understanding to interpret the answers to empirical questions; which results in competing empirical theories.

Normative theories are based on empirical assumptions to interpret how or what the world (or country) should be. Along with empirical assumptions, normative theories also encompass the social value systems or morals judgments of a mass to base their normative questions. For instance, many normative theorists question the phenomenon of war. Not only are empirical assumptions used to explain why war occurs or how to ascertain peace, but they also utilize normative judgments on whether or not the means of war are ever really justified (i.e. Pacifists vs. Realists). references

Normative Political Theory. Daniel Jacob, Bernd Ladwig, and Cord Schmelzle