chapter  2
International Relations Theory in Perspective
Pages 19

When in 1967 the Department of Public Law and Government at Columbia University voted to change its name to the Department of Political Science, I enthusiastically joined the majority. Several of my more senior colleagues, William T. R. Fox among them, questioned this change of academic symbolism. They argued, wrongly I thought at the time, that inserting the designation “science” into the department’s title signaled a veering toward a philosophy of knowledge that had not yet adequately proven its efficacy in the study of human affairs. “Public law” and “government” were, after all, only objects of study, while “political science” was a prescribed way to study, and there was some risk, my senior colleagues explained, in favoring, even by a choice of symbols, one pathway to understanding over others. But as Bertrand Russell had poetically underlined quite some time earlier, that which “presents itself as empiricism is sure of widespread acceptance, not on its merits, but because empiricism is the fashion.”1 And so, political science was embraced by Columbia University.