To study the State, government and law, Plato and Aristotle j adopted the deductive and inductive approaches respectively. Plato laid emphasis on universal values and reasonings. He has own concept of the ideal State which was the embodiment of morality, justice and truth. He drew his conclusion on the basis of the first major premise. In other words, Plato proceeded from the universal to the particular which is the main characteristic of deductive approach.
Aristotle on the other hand, used the inductive approach in the study of Political Science. He preferred to proceed from a particular to a general conclusion. First of all, he observed, analysed and compared different constitutions of the city-states and then drew the model of an ideal constitution of the city- states and then drew the model of an ideal constitution. In this case, the general conclusion was established from the particular facts. This is inductive approach. Aristotle was the first political philosopher who adopted this approach.
The Philos ophical Approach :
This approach is known as deductive or philosophical approach. Plato, Rousseau and Hegel and other philosophers used this approach in their studies. This approach implies that principles should be deduced from a series of general truths or assumptions. It admits, “an abstract ideal and draws deductions from it concerning the nature, functions and aims of the State”.
A certain view of human nature is taken for granted and deductions about the nature of political institutions are made. This approach is not strictly realistic because a political philosopher may lose sight of actual facts and may roam in darkness. “The Republic” of Plato and the ‘Utopia’ of Thomas Moore are the products of philosophical imagination. Philosophy deals with ideals and aspiration of a society.
An accurate knowledge of the political life of people can, as a matter of fact, be acquired with the help of a combination of actual and ideals in life. v
The next approach for dealing with the political phenomena is empirical approach or the approach of observation. This approach was first adopted by Aristotle, then by Montesquieu and Lord Bryce. Lord Bryce put emphasis on the use of this approach. He used this approach in the preparation of his two great books- “The American Commonwealth” and “Modern Democracies”.
He traveled several countries and collected the data after having studied personally the psychology of the political institutions. Lowell is also of the view that “politics is an observational and an experimental science”. The main laboratory for the actual working of political institutions” writes Lowell, ‘”is not library but the outside world of political life”.
One may observe the behaviour of the human beings and deduce certain conclusions. This can be either through deductive or inductive approach. In recent times, the approach of observation is becoming more popular. Political scientists are studying the behaviour of human beings and arriving at different conclusions.
Thus, Empirical Approach is used in the study of political science to arrive at different conclusions through experiments. A change in administration or in government may be studied on an experimental basis.
New ideas and institutions can be introduced for the sake of experiment. Panchayati Raj in India, for example, had been introduced on experimental basis. Sometimes different administrative reforms are also introduced on experimental basis. It is said that governments are always making experiments on the community.
Through the process of experiment, government may adopt new policies and ways. It is true that social conditions cannot be artificially created and experiments as in the physical sciences are not possible in Political Science. However, even with these handicaps, experiments in political science can be conducted.
Thus both philosophical and empirical approaches are followed to study political science. No single approach is adequate to study the whole subject. Only when a political scientist takes the help of different approaches, he can arrive at different conclusions. All the approaches are equally important. Thus with the help of different approaches, political science can be systematically studied.