To take a crude example, a state may stand firm (or back down) in one confrontation not because of the “underlying” variables political scientists are prone to look at, but because of lessons (perhaps incorrect) drawn from previous crises.
Political scientists do not entirely shun chronology.
There is a perhaps associated difference between the scholars in their stance toward facts.
I do not want to get into the difficult and important question of what exactly we mean by facts, whether they can exist independently of our interpretations, and related issues of epistemology and ontology.
Thus even if Germany sought a war in 1914 rather than being dragged into it by its weaker ally, Austria-Hungary, political scientists can use the latter interpretation as an example of the pernicious dynamics that can be at work in a multipolar system, especially one in which a strong state has become dependent on a weaker one. The facts are pushed, pulled, and twisted to fit his fascinating argument, and this is as true of his first major book, .
The ground-rules are not entirely clear here, but whatever they are, they are different from those governing historians. As wrong as he is about both cases, he not only stimulated scholars to go deeper into the material to show his errors, he also developed important ideas that may be fruitful even if they do not apply in these cases.
But a minor point may be worth making at the start.
It seems to many of us in political science that historians are gluttons for punishment, and we marvel at their linguistic competence and ability to penetrate and synthesize enormous amounts of material.
IMPORTANCE OF CHRONOLOGYThe passage of time is central to history and so it is not surprising that most historical studies are built around chronology.
This is not to say that these accounts simply put one thing after another, but that understanding how positions develop and change and how relations evolve or unfold through time is central to the historian’s task.