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a critique of behavioralism

To unravel the discursive and rhetorical strategies and reflect on their implications is important at least in three ways. First, the proponents of behavioralism after WW II explicitly aimed at rooting out all the so-called unscientific elements from the making of science, and highlighting the prominence of rhetorical imagination in this endeavour means to point at a tension at its very heart. Yet ‘rhetoric’ in this essay is not understood in the pejorative sense of deliberate deception or misleading of the audience. Instead, following research most notably in economics, sociology and psychology, I will discuss rhetoric in this context as ways in which scientific writing uses extensively common rhetorical strategies such as construction of ethos, authoritative point of view, style, metaphor, etc., as to maximise its potential to persuade (McCloskey 1985, McCloskey 1994, Gusfield 1992). Hence, rather than deeming these interconnected efforts of persuasion as discrediting, the ultimate aim of the essay is to criticise naïve and implicit disciplinary rhetoric, as opposed to a more self-aware, learned and explicit wordcraft. Secondly, these efforts to strengthen one’s scientific case with wordcraft in the case of mid-century political science were entwined with a number of other ways in which researchers sought to forcefully and persuasively open up the scientific – but also the public – political imagination. Two among the most explicit examples are, as the essay argues, the utterances regarding interdisciplinary fantasies and the socio-political ambitions of the newly ‘rigorous’’ political science. These two, especially in their appeal to their imagined scientific and social engineering potential, similarly functioned as strategies of persuasion. The highly exaggerated expectations, polemical character and at times problematic implications of these fantasies and ambitions was, interestingly, later acknowledged by some of the innovators t