In the 20th century Political Scientists were unable to find solutions to real life Political problems. At this stage the interest in philosophical speculation declined. In the beginning, the empirical approach was viewed as a supplement to the normative approach. But after 1940s the empirical approach monopolized the study of Politics.
The important Features of this approach are as follows
1. Modern Approach
Empirical approach emerged in the 20th Century. But empirical tradition can be traced back to the earliest days of Political thought. It can be seen in Aristole‟s (384-22 BC) attempt to classify constitutions, in Machiavelli‟s (1469-1527) realistic account of statecraft and in Montesquieu‟s theory of government and law. In 20th century it monopolized the study of Politics. In that sense it is modern.
2. Stresses Scientific Method
Empiricists Studied Political Processes using scientific techniques such as survey, research, observation, experiment, measurement etc. eg. A normative approach to electoral studies may philosophize on why people should vote. Where as empirical approach would conduct surveys and interview of voters to find out the actual voting process. The goal of empiricists is to develop a science of Political behavior.
3. Value Free
The empirical approach does not bother with morals, ethics and values. It is a rational approach. It restricts itself to what is and was rather than what ought to be. Empirists draw a line of difference between fact and value. They take value neutral attitude.
While studying the Political issues empiricists welcome social Sciences like sociology, Psychology and economics. It believes that political behavior of man is only one aspect of his total behavior and so the inter disciplinary Study would help Political analysis. Eg. To study voting behavior of the people we should study one‟s loyalties to caste, religion and political party economic condition require to be examined.
It is descriptive. It means it seeks to analyze and explain where the normative approach is `prescriptive‟ in the sense that it makes judgments and offers recommendations.
6. Emphasis on Informal Processes of Politics
In the modern approach, greater emphasis has been put on informal processes of Politics and less on Political institutions in isolation.
Empirical theories are realistic. These theories are not based on assumptions but on facts. Eg. A normative philosopher may believe that an ideal state is one where the Capital Punishment (death penalty) is banned. On the other hand an empirical thinker may produce statistical evidence to prove that countries that practice capital punishment show lower instances of killings than countries where the death penalty is not practiced. The death penalty saves several innocent lives by taking the life of a hardened criminal.
8. The Behavioral Approach
Behaviouralism is a further refinement of some aspects of empirical Method. It emphasized to the Study of man‟s Political behavior instead of State. It aimed at, “the development of a science of the Political process”. Its emphasis on scientific methods. Political-Science was in danger of becoming abstract and remote from reality. Therefore the behavioral approach completely abstains from “armchair” speculation. It requires the research to be systematic, hypothesis, data, evidence etc. Its theory is subjected to empirical verification. They identify problems and try to find out solutions.