Experiments in Political Science: The Case of the Voting Rules

  • Adrian Miroiu
Part of the The Philosophy of Science in a European Perspective book series (PSEP, volume 3)


Nearly two centuries ago, in his essay On the Definition of Political Economy; and on the Method of Investigation Proper to It, John Stuart Mill developed the view that in moral sciences the only certain or scientific mode of investigation is the a priori method, or that of “abstract speculation”. The following quotation concentrates his main argument:

There is a property common to almost all the moral sciences, and by which they are distinguished from many of the physical; this is, that it is seldom in our power to make experiments in them. … We cannot try forms of government and systems of national policy on a diminutive scale in our laboratories, shaping our experiments as we think they may most conduce to the advancement of knowledge. We therefore study nature under circumstances of great disadvantage in these sciences; being confined to the limited number of experiments which take place (if we may so speak) of their own accord, without any preparation or management of ours; in circumstances, moreover, of great complexity, and never perfectly known to us; and with the far greater part of the processes concealed from our observation.1


Social Choice Vote Rule Moral Science Strategic Vote Approval Vote 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Political Science DepartmentNational School of Political Studies and Public AdministrationBucharestRomania

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