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The Ladder of Abstraction

Rosemary H. T. O'Kane

Journal of Theoretical Politics, 1993, vol. 5, issue 2, 169-193

Abstract: Sartori's arguments about conceptual logic have generally either been ignored by political scientists in practice or they have produced vehement objections based on abstract reasoning. Through examination of recent statistical analyses of African coups d'état it is shown that Sartori's worst fears have been confirmed. The purpose of comparison has been defeated, comparison for difference and similarity has been obscured by cases being turned into `no difference', and the research has been not only wasteful but also misleading. The demonstration that the inadequacy of these studies follows from conceptual logic confirms Sartori's recommendation for the use of the `ladder of abstraction'. What is true for coups serves as a clear warning for the practice of political science as a whole.

Keywords: African coups d'état; comparative method; conceptual logic; ladder of abstraction; Sartori (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 1993
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