The Finnish Orientation in the History of Political Theory and the History of Political Concepts: An Analysis with Examples from Political Economy and Public Management

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Pertti Ahonen


In the course of thirty years, an internationally noted orientation in the study of the history of political theory and conceptual history has arisen around Professor Kari Palonen of Finland. In the article, first, the orientation is positioned within political science as en enterprise likened to the work of early sophist philosophers, which is how its place is seen also by its very representatives. Second, exactly because within the orientation its hermeneutic nature is denied in word, a dialogical-philosophical hermeneutic approach is adopted as the perspective to analyse it. Third, metaconcepts used within the orientation are given a treatment analogous to that given to political concepts within the orientation’s work, namely politicisation and historicisation. Importantly, this concerns ‘nominalist’ vs. ‘essentialist’ concepts and concepts related to ‘contingency’. The political science examples and the practical political examples are brought for illustration, in particular, from “political economy” and ‘New Public Management’.

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