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The Development of Contemporary Political Theory

Ordeshook, Peter C. (1991) The Development of Contemporary Political Theory. Social Science Working Paper, 762. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

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Bold claims are made about contemporary political theory's accomplishments since that theory was inaugurated by the writings of Arrow, Downs, Black, Riker, Buchanan and Tullock, and Olson. Others argue, however, that this theory suffers from too great a concern with mathematical notation and too little concern with substantive relevance. This essay argues that both views are essentially correct - that although our understanding of politics (and of economics) remains in such a primitive state that we cannot ignore the practical necessity for considering other, less formal modes of inquiry, something has been accomplished. In particular, we argue that the current paths of development of political theory - the discovery of First Principles - are identical to those set forth by arguably the most successful set of "political engineers" in history - the founders of the American republic. However, we also argue that many of the shortcomings of contemporary theory derive from a failure to appreciate something that was apparent to those Founders; namely, the distinction between science and engineering and the proper role of empirical and experimental analysis.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
Additional Information:Prepared for delivery at the Eighth International Symposium in Economic Theory and Econometrics, Washington University, St. Louis, May 22-25, 1991. Ordeshook, Peter C. “The Development of Contemporary Political Theory.” Political Economy: Institutions, Competition and Representation: Proceedings of the Seventh International Symposium in Economic Theory and Econometrics, edited by William A. Barnett et al., Cambridge University Press, 1991, pp. 71–104.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:762
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170831-133619242
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:81026
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:31 Aug 2017 21:00
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:37

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