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Roundtable Discussion on State Science

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The National University of Public Service has initiated a series of roundtable discussions on state science. The first of four discussions was held on the 29th of October 2014 at the Ludovika Campus of NUPS under the moderation of Dr. Norbert Kis, Vice-Rector for Continuing Education and International Affairs.

In his opening remarks, Prof. Dr. András Tamás of the Institute of State and Social Theory at the Faculty of Public Administration reminded that even though the state itself has been in existence for a long time, state science was only displayed in fragments prior to the age of enlightenment. Accordingly, the first roundtable discussion focused on the essence of state science.

Professor Tamás also noted that public administration law has entered Hungarian higher level education only in the middle of the 19th century, adding that although state science is neither history, nor law or sociology, it contains elements of all of these fields of science. Another point of view, according to Professor Tamás, is that the state can most likely be defined through various areas of law, however, it is an interesting fact that the Roman Empire for example did not have public administration law, nor a constitution for that matter.

He emphasized that the scientific explanation of the state was introduced through the works of Immanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. In contrast, contemporary views on the subject are not that extensive but give rise to other formations such as political science. According to Professor Tamás, the achievements of both normative and non-normative sciences should be re-synthesized, although that development is for the future.

Furthermore, he shared his view that the public’s concept of the state has significantly changed in the last 150 years. A whole new kind of society can be constructed through marketing and business interests and while people used to identify aims and common values for humanity, these have been replaced by relative theories such as the concept and definition of good governance.

Professor György Jenei at the roundtable focused on public policy decision-making. As he pointed out, public policy decisions in post-parliamentarian democracies are the products of bargains between the government and different groups of society. Professor Jenei added there are signs that the thinking on state science could re-gain a single framework thanks to neo-Weberian theory.

In contrast with the view of Professor Tamás, Professor Gábor Máthé has the opinion that state science has a history of not 150 but 300 years with the first modern theory of state being introduced by Niccoló Machiavelli. In his debate, Professor Máthé emphasized that academicians do not believe in the common and continuous development of history and state science but rather support the idea of studying variegation in this matter. He added that the state science of the 21st century has had to deal with the formation of a supranational space, reminding the audience of the emergence of transnational law and of the fact that the largest multinational companies’ respective budgets are of similar size to those of some states.