S. Schier

Office Hours

Willis 414, ext. 4118

Fall 2000

Prof. Schier's Web Page


Your interest in political subjects led you to political science and to this course. The practical politics of Washington, D.C. might attract you. Perhaps you find relations between nations intrinsically fascinating. The "great issues" of political philosophy may consume you. Your interest in political subjects probably will be with you throughout your life. At Carleton, our department supplies a variety of approaches you can use to understand politics. You need to comprehend these approaches in order to better grasp political subjects.

The core mission of our department -- and this course -- is to help you to understand politics better. A sophisticated student of politics accomplishes two tasks. First, he/she explains political life logically and rigorously. Second, in so doing, he/she takes a philosophical position concerning how one should properly understand the political world. In this class, we will examine (1) the process of explaining politics through modeling, (2) the methods used in this task and (3) the philosophical implications of this enterprise.

The following book, required for this class, is in the bookstore:

Every other reading for this course is on CLOSED RESERVE in the library. Multiple copies of each are available. I recommend you make your own copies for personal use.

Grades will be assigned on the following basis:

Paper on modeling (4-6 pp., due beginning of week 4)

50% (100 points)

Take-home final (4-6 pp., due two days after last day of class)

35% (70 points)

Class exercises and participation

15% (30 points)



I. Introduction: why are you here? (1 day)

II. An Introduction to Modeling (1 day)

READ Lave and March, An Introduction to Models in the Social Sciences. chs. 2 and 3 (r)

ASSIGNMENT: Do question 3, p. 44 and question 9, p. 82. DUE at 9am in my office before class. BE READY TO DISCUSS ANSWERS IN CLASS. NOTE: You can e-mail your work to me at

III. Politicians and Models (1 day)

READ William Riker, The Art of Political Manipulation, chs. 1, 7, 10 and conclusion (r)

ASSIGNMENT: FIND an example of agenda control, strategic voting or manipulation of dimensions from politics or everyday life. Write it up, explaining why it is an example of one of the three types of behavior. DUE at 9 am in my office before class. You can e-mail it to me at

IV. A Consumer Guide to Modeling (6 days)

A. What is political science research? (1 day)
READ Johnson and Joslyn, chs. 1, 3, and 6

B. Measurement (1 day)

READ Johnson and Joslyn, ch. 4; Michael Wallace, "Armaments and Escalation"

C. Surveys and Sampling (1 day)

READ Johnson and Joslyn, chs. 7 and 10

D. Survey Examples (2 days)

READ Johnson and Joslyn, ch. 13; Schlozman, Burns and Verba, "Gender and Pathways to Participation: The Role of Resources;" and Wilcox, "Race Differences in Abortion Attitudes" (both on r)

E. Experiments and Documentary Analysis (1 day)

READ Johnson and Joslyn, chs. 5, 8 and 9

V. Philosophy and the Study of Politics (5 days)

A. The Behavioral Revolution (2 days)
READ Johnson and Joslyn, ch. 2; Easton, "The Current Meaning of Behavioralism in Political Science," and Sibley, "The Limitations of Behavioralism" (both in one reading on r)

B. Rival Theories of Knowledge I (1 day)

READ Eugene Miller, "Positivism, Historicism and Political Inquiry" (r)

C. Rival Theories of Knowledge II (1 day)

READ Braybrooke and Rosenberg, "Getting the War News Straight," Miller, "Rejoinder" (both on r).

D. Another view (1 day)

READ Strauss, "An Epilogue" (r)


You are to locate an article presenting the results of political research, identify the model of political phenomena evident in the research, and critique this model.

A thorough critique will answer the twelve questions posed by Johnson and Joslyn on pages 403-404. In conclusion, you should discuss the article in terms of its overall truth, beauty and justice (Lave and March, ch. 3).

You should first search the library for an article that interests you. The article should employ quantitative empirical research in a sophisticated fashion -- mere crosstabulations and percentages will not suffice. Pages 160-63 in Johnson and Joslyn list possible journals to consult. Next, clear the article with me and ask me any questions you may have about its theory or method.

Reading chapter 14 of Johnson and Joslyn is strongly recommended for this assignment. Johnson and Joslyn's chapter 13 may also assist you in sorting through statistical analysis.

A typed, 5-6 page paper is due at the beginning of class on Monday, October 2 (section one) or Wednesday, November 8 (section two). HAND IN A PHOTOCOPY OF YOUR ARTICLE WITH YOUR PAPER.