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Political Science Commons

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Law

Duke Law

1996

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Full-Text Articles in Political Science

Rationality And The Foundations Of Positive Political Theory, Mathew D. Mccubbins, Michael F. Thies Jan 1996

Rationality And The Foundations Of Positive Political Theory, Mathew D. Mccubbins, Michael F. Thies

Faculty Scholarship

In this paper, we discuss and debunk the four most common critiques of the rational choice research program (which we prefer to call Positive Political Theory) by explaining and advocating its foundations: the rationality assumption, component analysis (abstraction), strategic behavior, and theory building, in turn. We argue that the rationality assumption and component analysis, properly understood, can be seen to underlie all social science, despite the protestations of critics. We then discuss the two ways that PPT most clearly contributes to political science (i.e., what distinguishes it from other research programs), namely the introduction of strategic behavior (people do ...