Conceptual Disputes in Political Theory: A Pluralist Approach

Anno LVI, n. 230, gennaio-aprile 2021

Anno LVI, n. 230, gennaio-aprile 2021
Centro Einaudi
Articolo completo/Full text


Disagreements over the meaning of concepts are very common in political studies. A major cause of these disagreements is given by the fact that there is no agreement over the methodology we should adopt to construct and analyze political concepts. As I will argue in this paper, in fact, this metatheoretical disagreement is a main source of conceptual confusion in political theory. To solve this metatheoretical issue, I propose that we adopt a pluralist approach to the construction of political concepts following John Gerring’s idea of a mini-max strategy. This means we will provide two definitions: a minimal and a maximal definition. The minimal definition is a small set of sufficient and necessary conditions for a concept to occur whereas the maximal definition is a list of all the characteristics we find associated with a concept in the academic literature and in the ordinary use. The two definitions, together, will work as a conceptual map that scholars could easily apply, in any moment, to a concept, without getting lost in endless disputes over its definition.