By John S. Nelson
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Extra resources for Tradition, interpretation, and science: political theory in the American academy
He does not deny differences among the many projects so schematized. L. Austin, he argues instead that the differences are far too numerous, diverse, and shifting to be reduced to simple dichotomies between explanations and descriptions or facts and values. 26 Despite the usual rhetoric of political scientists, Gunnell reminds them of what they already know, at least tacitly: that these philosophical splits have little to do with the distinctions encouraged by the substance of their own studies.
Striking examples of this abound in the rebuttals to Gunnell's attack on the myth of the tradition. " 29 Typically, critics set out to establish that Gunnell incorrectly states important aspects of the tradition or traditional theories, as well he may. Almost as often, they conclude by arguing that he virtually reinstates a version of the classic tradition, as indeed he does. Along the way, they slide so far toward his perspectives that they finish by faulting him more for finally contradicting his original case against the tradition than for putting it forward in the first place.
Here Gunnell invokes his three or four orders of theory. But displaced or even alienated as they sometimes are, they remain by his own account of the tradition at least potentially political. Again the tacit point is how political our tradition may be. If Grunnell returns the reader to traditional political theory, then regardless of how ''analytical" and "extrinsic" his own "retrospective reconstruction," the very idea of the tradition has become more actively political. " 31 Always Gunnell's concern is for doing what is intended as directly and successfully as possible.
Tradition, interpretation, and science: political theory in the American academy by John S. Nelson