An Inquiry about the Law in Geography with Emphasis on Political Geography

Document Type : بنیادی(Stem, Basic)


1 Assistant Professor of Political Geography, Faculty of Geography, University of Tehran

2 Assistant Professor of Political Geography, Faculty of Geography, University of Tehran, Iran

3 Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Tarbiat Modares University

4 PhD Candidate in Political Geography, Faculty of Geography, University of Tehran


Discovering theories and laws explaining the patterns and behaviors of natural and human world is one of the main goals of science. In social science realm, there have been two antagonist and different approaches about law of these sciences. Some schools based on realistic approach have insisted on assimilation of the natural and human sciences on the contrary idealistic school. Given humanism, we consider social science different from natural science and the similarity between the laws of social natural sciences. This issue in geography is also from those disputable issues that has already been the subject of many disputations among different geographical schools. Some of the theories in the geography are environmentalism and behaviorism in spatial and systematic aspects. In opposition, possibilism, exceptionalism and radical schools (critical and post-modern) consider the geography as a lawless knowledge. This research analyzes the issue differently. We want to address the issue whether geography is a lawless science? If it is, then how are its laws? According to the analysis of the paper, geography is considered as a law-able science.
This paper is a fundamental research by the typology for problem resolving purpose, mental and philosophical problem. This analysis is based on logical and epistemological theorems and reasoning. The sources used in this paper are documentary and library references.
Results and discussion
Scientific law is a kind of generalization with comprehensive reliability. In other words, this kind of law is unbounded at time and space with three characteristics such as universal, conditional prediction and experimental falsification. In this field, some of the positivistic geographers following the nature are seeking lawful order and dominating on society and livelihood. The geography is an objective, observational, quantitative and lawable knowledge. Therefore, the laws and rules can be exploited by the deduction. In this regard, observation without theory has upper priority and geometrical models are most significant. According to this perspective, geography is considered as a science seeking to discover universal rules and principles dominating over environmental elements such as social and natural issues. The duty of geographer is to discover causative relations between phenomena and representing them based on geographical general and comprehensive laws. In contrast, some geographers doubtfully look at causative and necessary relationships in geography. They have reacted against such attitudes. They believe in lawless geography emphasizing on human will and liberty and natural, cultural, historical and ideological differences. These groups among geographical spaces have searched for understanding the meaning of human society. The present study consider geography in general and political geography in particular s credit science with the concepts such as state, territory, border, political management of space, government, nation, administrative division, spatial management, and political organization of space. Also in credit science,  it is not necessary to have various truths, even if the subject of proposition or law is personal it can be considered as a law. Therefore, according to the results of this study, geography can be considered as a law-able science.     
Science is an effort to discover existing order in various phenomena. In other words, the goal of science is to discover theories and rules explaining patterns and behaviors of natural and social world. According to this definition, any kind of science fields and branches investigates the order of a part of the world. For example, physics investigates existing order in movement of energy and material. Medicine explains the order of body. Hence, geography attempts to recognize the existing order in features on place and dominated process on patterns, spatial behaviors. Totally, any scientific category is composed of real, objective and tangible subjects that have some characteristics like experimental analyses and falsificationality. It is also based on analogical and inductive method or logic; , the categories are based on compositional mechanism of induction and syllogism. A brief deliberation on theme, structure, subject and methodology in geography will indicate that all the features and characteristics of a scientific knowledge can be found in geography. Therefore, scientific explanation in geography is just like other “lawable sciences”. Of course, there is no consensus among geographers about the lawability in geography. As law is a generalized science with comprehensive credit and truth or, in other words, unbounded universal are in space and time and the necessary condition for lawability of a scientific phrase is having a universal generalization. Therefore, some geographers due to particularity and specification of places, un-repeatability of human phenomena and interference of human wills, values and motivations believe in geography as a lawless science. But since geography is a Credit science, not real, its lawability isn’t necessarily based on plurality and frequency proofs (just like in natural sciences), rather the lawability in geography is based on causal relations between subject and object or dependent and independent variables particularly in human and social sciences. Therefore, unlike naturalist geographer’s point of view, even if a geographical proposition is also personal but there is a causal relation between subject and object, then the personal proposition will be a general rule that can be generalized to all other spaces and places. Therefore, according to the analysis of this paper, geography in general and other geography sub-fields like political geography in particular, are considered as lawable sciences.


Main Subjects

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