The Limitations of Equilibrium Analysis in Political Science

  • John H. Aldrich
  • David W. Rohde
Part of the Studies in Public Choice book series (SIPC, volume 4)


William Riker, in his essay on the scientific problems created by disequilibrium (1980a) and in his essay on the philosophical problems raised (forthcoming), has offered a serious challenge to positive political theorists. Our essay is intended to do two things. First, we argue that the prospects for a science of politics are, perhaps, not as dismal as a reading of Riker’s essays suggest. We, at least, remain hopeful if not optimistic. Second, we offer our view of how we see this scientific accounting of political phenomena proceeding. We do so by presenting specific examples of various aspects of social choice via voting or similar methods of preference aggregation. We emphasize that we are concerned with the scientific endeavor, not the philosophical. Even if our optimism is realized scientifically, very serious ethical problems will remain.


Stable Equilibrium Ideal Point Disposable Income Equilibrium Analysis Unstable Equilibrium 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer · Nijhoff Publishing 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • John H. Aldrich
  • David W. Rohde

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