Lecture and Reading Notes for Modern Postivist Approaches in Political Science

Discussion and reactions on Political Psychology (New Political-Psychology) and Rational Choice (New Economics-Psychology) follow… Boring for all but the bravest


Political Science Stages and Rational Choice
beginning: institutional and legal

Behavioralists/social-psycologists (“The American Voter”, 1960)
– 1950s/60s: atheoretical, very empirical, uncoordinated, piecemeal, “no interesting works or big questions”
– 1980s/1990s: reintroduction with more theory and rigour

Rational Choice Theory
– 1950s/1960s: first economic models are introduced, but mostly ignored
– 1980s: reintroduction with emphasis on systematic, rigrous, rational choice paradigm approach

Rational Choice never overtook Behavioralism, but was most dominant alternative
– rational choice had a broader domain than behavioralism, but behavioralism emphasized vote choice
– offers a high degree of precision (because of its reliance on mathematics)
– good mechanism for generationg counter-intuitive hypothesis (for example, instead of why not vote, why vote?)

Definitions and Conventions in Rational Choice Theory
Rationality – Self Interested: focus on maximizing utility with minimal outlay
Methodological Individualism – focus on the motivations of each individual
Purposeful Action – all action is goal oriented (equivilent to “Action is Oriented” in OODA loop?)
States of Nature – the settings that influence the outcomes (this is rarely known perfectly – Decision Making Under Certainty/Risk)
Preferences – things you like over outcomes
Postulated Preferences – theoretical assumptiosn about what peoples preferences are
Spatial Models – uses Euclidean n-dimensional grid to define current position, optima, indifference curves, etc

Definitions and Conventions in Political Psychology
– more heterogenous than rational choice, no universal list of assumptions here
– also more electric methods than rational choice
– socialization is important
– importance of information processing
– methodological individualism & “groupism”
– focus on motivation (cognitive? attitudinal? emotionalism? groups? genetics?)
– context
– internal states (orientations? orientation state? OODA state? stance?)

Dominance of Domains:
Behavioralism: American, Comparative
Rational Choice: Everything Else


Below follows the notes for my second reaction paper:

Ordeshook Emerging
-materialist
-pol-econ syncretism
-university interia as a burden
-”time to move on”
– importance of game theory
— sucessor to behavioralism
— languished as a backwater
– conflation of psychology and sociology?
– early math approaches technical, worthless?
– need to use same tools in politics and economics
– “translat epreferences… into a social decision” 20
– “every election platform can be defeated by some other election platform”
– early failures of game theory everywhere
– “rationality itself is ill defined”

Ordeshook Game Theory
Assumptions of Formal Theory
– methodologicla individualism
– purposeful action
purposeful does not mean “carefully and consciously”
other people are exogenous/static
state of nature + action -> outcome
Action-set is exhaustive and exclusive
ditto Outcome-set
both are countable, finite
but easier to let be uncountable and in
uncountable, infinite sets can be pictured
states of nature
– conditions before voting as example
what about fuzziness in these sets?
Preference relation
o R o’
completeness: either o R o’ OR o’ R o
transitivity if o R o’ AND o’ R o” THEN o R o”
indiffiererence o I o’ IF o R o’ AND o’ R o
strict priference o P o’ IF o R o’ AND NOT o’ R o
problem: cake R bach?
solution: becomes meaningful when context is specifiied
problem: indifference to small increases, preference in large increases
solution: transitivity only works with strict preference
Ordinal Utility:
R : =>
I: =
P: >
Ordinal Utility Function: allows mathetical manipulation of proferences and outcomes
not all ordinal utility functions are equivelent ot each other, so be careful!
Directions of Research:
Proceed Directly to Interest or Work from First Principles
“more on personal taste”
good explanation of spatial models
“indifference countours are continuous” – not if they are curves in higher-dimensional space than is being visualized
game theory over quantitative, not qualitative, changes? (Boydian)
how to integrate baynesianism to this the probability discussion?

Lane
psychologicla influences?
study of power
economics too materialist?
“beyond the povery level — level of uncome is unrelated to subjectiv wellbeing or happiness”
“Peoplw who score high on [the materialist scale] are unhappier than low scorers”
mention of Piaget
people are aroused more by “fraternal deprivation”
“self-interest ordinarily does not have much effect”
psych=inductive;econ=deductive
“internalizes the purpose of an organization”
“the size of a state today is a result of its politicla culture yesterday”
Brehm: if C is denied, those who used to prefer B now prefer C
polipsych avoids methodological individualism?
gourmet tastes when field is small
(expertise as limiter or choice?)
criticism of rational choice
little correlation between democracy and happiness
activate the left subcortext where the pleasre center lies
lane’s argument is normative

Sullivan/Rhan/Rudolph
history of polipsych
Piaget -> Information Processing
cognition v. economics in politics
“serial shift,” synthesis?
psychoanalytic perspectives
bayesian!!! – majorities think they are super-majorities

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