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READINGS IN
POLITICAL SCIENCE

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER I

NATURE AND SCOPE OF POLITICAL SCIENCE

I. SCOPE OF POLITICAL SCIENCE 1. The work of the American Political Science Association. Since the systematic study of political science is comparatively recent, it is necessary to indicate clearly the general nature of its field. At the first public meeting of the American Political Science Association, held at Chicago, Illinois, December 28–30, 1904, the presidential address, delivered by Professor Frank J. Goodnow, outlined the objects and purposes of the association and indicated the scope of Political Science.

Political Science is that science which treats of the organization known as the State. It is at the same time, so to speak, a science of statics and a science of dynamics. It has to do with the State at rest and with the State in action. Inasmuch, however, as it is the State in action which causes the phenomena of the greatest practical concern to the individual, what will hereafter be said will be said from the point of view of the dynamics of Political Science. The State, as an object of scientific study, will be considered from the point of view of the various operations necessary to the realization of the State will.

In order that the State will may be realized in any concrete instance, it is necessary, first, that there be organs for the formulation of the State

will ; second, that that will be expressed ; and, third, that the will, once expressed, shall be executed. Our subject naturally divides itself, therefore, into three pretty distinct parts, viz. :

ist, The expression of the State will ;
2d, The content of the State will as expressed, and
3d, The execution of the State will.

In the first place, the State will must be expressed. In order that it shall be expressed, it is necessary that organs shall be established which are capable of action. The problems involved in determining what these organs shall be and how they shall act are of two kinds. They are, in the first place, theoretical or speculative in character, and they are, in the second place, legal or expressive of existing conditions. The theoretical problems have been mentioned first. For, however contemptuous may be one's belief in the practical value of the study of political theory, it is none the less true that every governmental system is based on some more or less well-defined political theory whose influence is often felt in minute details of governmental organization. The problems connected with the organization of the authorities which are to express the State will have to do naturally with the special disciplines to which the names of political theory and constitutional law have been attached....

But the problems of political theory, so far as that confines itself to the organization of the State and constitutional law do not, by any means, embrace all the problems arising in connection with the first branch of our subject. For the expression of the will of the State is in some cases directly facilitated by methods of procedure and by organizations which are not commonly regarded as parts of the political system. There are in all governmental systems extralegal customs and extralegal organizations whose influence must be considered if we are to obtain an idea of the actual political system of a country. ... Our political science has, therefore, to do, not only with the theoretical and legal problems of State organization, but also with the somewhat more practical and concrete problems of party organization, and nomination methods, whether these matters are regulated by law or not.

One of the peculiar developments of American political practice has been the attempt to separate both in organization and action the sovereign State from the government. The organization of the sovereign State we find provided for in constitutional conventions and plebiscites; its will is recorded in written constitutions and constitutional amendments. Important problems, both of a political and legal character, present themselves in connection with these subjects. ...

I have said that constitutional conventions and written constitutions are peculiar to American development. While this is true, it is also true that some European states have manifested a tendency somewhat akin to that to be noticed in the United States; while in America, not content with giving the sovereign people its opportunity to express its will on matters of fundamental importance, we have called upon it to act on many less important matters. We find here, as well as elsewhere, many instances of the referendum and initiative, both in state and local affairs. These are subjects which should receive attention at our hands. ....

So far we have considered the questions of who shall express the State will and how shall that will be expressed. The second branch of the subject which demands attention is the content of the State will.

The content of the State will is usually regarded as the law. Unless we conceive of all law as a part of Political Science, it becomes necessary then to differentiate Political Science from legal science. Strictly speaking, of course all law which does not affect the relations of the State and its officers is to be assigned to legal rather than to Political Science. For the science of the private law, i.e. the law affecting the relations of private individuals one with another, is based upon social rather than political considerations. At the same time we must remember that the State, in either its central or local organization, is a subject of the private law, since it may enter into almost all the relations into which a private individual may enter. . . . For these reasons the American Political Science Association has included among the subjects which are not foreign to it comparative legislation and historical and comparative jurisprudence, whether that legislation or jurisprudence is private or public. ... In laying this emphasis upon the necessity of the study of public law for the political scientist, I would not be regarded as depreciating the importance of the work of the theorist. Without him progress would be impossible; without him the public lawyer becomes a mere slave of precedent. Our study of the public law should therefore embrace a study of what it is, and what it should be.

It has been said that Political Science has to do with the execution of the State will, once it has been expressed. The subject of the execution of the State will, or the enforcement of law is one which, it seems to me, has never been accorded the importance which it deserves. ... I cannot let this opportunity pass without attempting to emphasize the importance of the ascertainment and application of correct principles of administration. I cannot accept the truth of the saying,

For forms of government let fools contest;
That which is best administered is best,

for there is no one who has endeavored to secure some change in existing

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