Critical Realism And Causal Analysis

Critical realism focuses around the anti-positivist philosophy of science established by Roy Bhaskar and has challenged some of the core theories associated with political explanation and science. One of the main contributions of critical realism is its focus on causal analysis, which as a contested concept, has challenged twentieth-century thoughts about political science and further International Relations, thus challenging the positivist thinking associated with the era. Critical realism challenges conventional notions of causal analysis within politics and social sciences. This essay will focus around the key theorists associated with critical realism and the use of causal analysis, further analysing how these contributions have challenged …show more content…
From this I will argue that the non-positivist critical realist approach to political explanation is advantageous as it challenges traditional positivist conceptions within the social sciences and causation within politics, giving rise to a more holistic, reflective and methodologically pluralistic causal theories.

Causation is a contested concept within politics and social science whereby key debates have focused around the meaning, reality and methods of causal analysis. Critical realism’s ontological approach asserts that reality exists independently of human observers, and that this justifies the practice of science. To further this, it is only by accepting that causal forces exist and explaining why and how these processes work around us in the everyday environment where things give rise to other things. Critical realists reject the empiricist logic for
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Scepticism is associated with ontological causal complexity as it is simple to claim that politics is complex, however positivists say that this lacks clarity as there aren’t succinct methodological tools to prove this. There are many different causes within politics giving rise to varied explanations, however without the methodological tools we cannot measure the explanatory content of these variables against each other. Only empirical testing can provide us with the instrumental grounds to effectively evaluate theoretical conceptualisations. However, despite this, the positivist critique can be deemed inadequate as critical realists recognise the methodological and ontological limitations associated with the theory. Positivism is said to evaluate the use of critical realism using their own criteria instead of the core theory. They argue that critical realism fails to test knowledge claims about causes effectively, however this is based on the positivist theory that scientific knowledge requires evaluation to be

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