Pipers Woerterbuch zur Politik

Authors: Nohlen
Summary: The about 430 word entry makes two distinctions: one between laws as norms and as expressions of a scientific findings, and a second one between laws in the natural and the social sciences. The entry proceeds by focusing on the social sciences and distinguishes between four forms of laws here. The term law has specific meaning in the political realm, where it refers to regulations of human behavior within a community. In the sciences, laws describe or explain scientific findings. The distinction between the natural and social sciences rests on the fact that only in the former empirical results based on experiments and measurement can be replicated in unlimited numbers. The social scientist is often not evenable to conduct experiments in the first place. As the entry establishes, critical rationalist have argued that if social scientists would adhere to the strict empirical requirements of how to establish laws, only meaningless general trivialities could be formulated. The in Weber s terminology quasi-laws developed in the social sciences are then categorized as nomological-deterministic (hypotheses and theories), probabilistic -statistical, and historical laws with a fourth category encompassing the rules for rational action under certain circumstances.