How Much Data for the Political Theorist? On the Argumentative Normative Behaviourism

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Jonathan Floyd’s work explores the ways in which political theory can use empirical data to answer a fundamental question: what is the best kind of a contemporary regime? The goals of the current article are to understand Floyd’s important argument, to clarify the argument’s main attributes, and to suggest that the argument cannot rely solely on empirical data: even if all the conditions that are necessary for Floyd’s framework present themselves, his approach still requires substantial theoretical, normative, or philosophical foundations. I argue that it is not possible to rely on empirical data to circumvent political philosophising; the justification for such reliance itself requires substantial philosophical arguments. Regardless, Floyd’s project is a leading example of the benefits of bringing political theory and political science closer to each other.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-475
Number of pages7
JournalPolitical Studies Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • empirical political theory
  • methodology
  • normative behaviourism
  • political theory
  • research methods

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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