The central objective of this book is to generate empirical generalizations that may serve as theoretical propositions on decision making and group influence in Soviet politics. For several reasons, a complete and all-encompassing theory of decision making in the Soviet Union is not the aim. First, a theory of decision making, in my opinion, is not valid unless it is an empirical theory, i.e. a system of logically related, empirically testable, lawlike propositions.1 Such a theory is a human construct based on empirically observed phenomena. A political theory not based on the observable world would be a normative theory and would fall in the category of political philosophy. I believe that our understanding of decision making in Soviet politics is not advanced by excercises in political philosophy. Second, I am well aware of the limitations of the scientific inquiry of Soviet political processes. What we can discover of the goings-on in Soviet political institutions will always remain limited, especially if compared with democratic systems. The construction of a theory would require the availability of many more empirical data than are potentially at our disposal. This is not to say that we are not making any progress; it is a pleasing fact that more and more studies of Soviet decision making are partially based on interviews with the persons involved.
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