Hanley, Ryan P. “Political Science and Political Understanding: Isaiah Berlin on the Nature of Political Inquiry.” American Political Science Review: 98/2: 327–39, 2004.
“Isaiah Berlin is remembered for his positive/negative liberty distinction and his value pluralism, but he was also an active participant in the debate over the nature of political inquiry. This essay argues that his neglected contribution to this debate is central to his thought and a valuable resource in today’s debate over political science’s methods and ends. I first show how Berlin understood the relationship of empirical science to humanistic study. I then demonstrate that his conceptions of political judgment and the “sense of reality” were intended as alternatives to the scientific pursuit of political knowledge. Finally, I argue that his Churchill and Weizmann essays present exemplars of the moral excellence Berlin considered necessary to ennoble liberal society and the political understanding indispensable to comprehensive political inquiry. I conclude by noting how Berlin’s critique of scientific political inquiry informs his liberalism and his own methods of political inquiry.”