What Is the Difference Between Political Science and Political Philosophy?


Martha Robinson

Are you interested in the study of politics, but not quite sure where to start? Political science and political philosophy are two fields that may seem similar at first glance, but actually have distinct differences. In this article, we’ll explore what sets these two disciplines apart.

Political Science

Political science is a social science that focuses on the study of governments, politics, and public policies. It uses empirical research methods to examine how political power is distributed and exercised within societies. Political scientists use a variety of tools to analyze political behavior, including surveys, experiments, and statistical analysis.

What do political scientists study?

  • The mechanics of government: How do different types of governments work?
  • Political behavior: Why do people vote the way they do? What factors influence political participation?
  • Public policy: How are laws and regulations created? How do they impact society?
  • International relations: How do countries interact with each other on the global stage?

What are some career paths in political science?

  • Policy analyst
  • Campaign manager
  • Journalist
  • Lobbyist

Political Philosophy

Political philosophy is a branch of philosophy that explores questions about justice, morality, and the proper role of government. It seeks to understand the nature of political authority and its relationship to individual freedom. Unlike political science, which uses empirical methods to study politics, political philosophy relies on logic and critical thinking to address abstract questions.

What do political philosophers study?

  • The nature of justice: What makes a society just or unjust? How should resources be distributed?
  • The role of government: What is the proper role of government in society?

    Should it promote individual freedom or social welfare?

  • Political legitimacy: What gives a government the right to rule? Can citizens ever have a duty to disobey unjust laws?

What are some career paths in political philosophy?

  • Academic philosopher
  • Think tank researcher
  • Policy analyst
  • Social activist

The Difference between Political Science and Political Philosophy

While political science and political philosophy both deal with the study of politics, there are some key differences between the two disciplines. Political science tends to focus on empirical research and the analysis of political behavior, while political philosophy is more concerned with abstract questions about justice, morality, and the nature of government.

Another key difference is that political science often has more practical applications than political philosophy. Political scientists may work in government or other organizations to develop policies or analyze public opinion. In contrast, political philosophers are more likely to work in academia or think tanks, where they can explore theoretical questions without the same pressure to produce practical results.

In conclusion, while they may share some similarities, political science and political philosophy are distinct fields with different approaches. Whether you’re interested in studying politics from an empirical or theoretical perspective, both disciplines offer fascinating insights into how governments and societies function.