This area does not yet contain any content.
This area does not yet contain any content.
This area does not yet contain any content.
This area does not yet contain any content.
This area does not yet contain any content.
« How to Judge a Constitution Properly | Main | Martin Quinn Scores and Ideology »
Tuesday
Jan272009

What's Wrong With Quantitative Ideology Models Used by The Political Science Social Club

Hello Ted.

1. I'm glad you share some sympathies toward my orientation. You are not right, of course, if you mean to say that i cannot productively converse on this subject with you (or anyone). Indeed, my contributions would be quite well thought out, and I imagine both of our ideas about the subject would have benefited. I do understand your concerns, however. Talking with a Wittgensteinian can be a headache. 

2. I think the thing that you must understand from my perspective is that I am a philosopher who was trained both as a lawyer and as an empirical watcher of what this group of scholars call (quite colorfully) "judicial politics." Because I am imminently familiar with philosophy of law, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, Wittgenstein, and "the quantitative arts," it bothers me to no end to see the silliness emanating from powerful segments of one social club being repeated by, and incorporated into, another. I am now seeing more often in books here and there, lawyers starting to say things like "segal and spaeth proved this," "martin and quinn measure  ideology," "the attitudinal model says," etc., etc., without the faintest idea of what the proof or claims therein consist of, what is meant in the charge of "ideology," or how any of that is actually accounted for. Truthfully, what happens is this: a law scholar looks for
footnotes because they think it makes for better "scholarship." It doesn't. It makes only a club product.

Listen to me very carefully. What quantitative political science does is it constructs some index and then gives it a NAME rather than a rigid designator, as all other empirical sciences do. They also make-up the index as a CREATIVE act, not from a science of observation. So there is no real science to the instrumentation. All they ever have is a mathematicized rhetoric. They also don't even realize as a social club that science of this sort, if it were to exist, could only observe its index, not the thing they are calling it. And so, you go to these conferences and out they come. "I'm using this ideology measure because it helps me the best," "I'm using the other ideology measure." "I'm using all of them to make people happy." At one job talk where I used to work one person once said (no kidding), "here are the dots. If I was wrong, the dots would be over there." One of my favorite things to look for at one of these conferences is when someone
claims the "attitudinal model" to be an "elegant theory." This always alerts me to the fact that the scholar knows nothing about philosophy and is at the conference for the art of mixing math with rhetoric. (It also reminds me that the club has a "Hell's Angels" component to it).

Not only do none of these indicies actually measure "ideology," very often the speaker doesn't have a refined idea of what this concept entails among its competitors. Lacking requisite understanding in philosophy of law, language and science, the club, nonetheless, produces its books, and they pass this numerology on to one another like communion -- and before you know it, now the lawyers are saying it, too. Now its on Oyez. And then when one of the favorite rituals of these two clubs comes along -- "this one is the liberal one," "that one was active," "this one used his attitudes" "that one cheated because he liked the result" -- out comes the "science" into the carnival.

I mean, really. One ought to film the thing and put it in Seinfeld or something. 

Regards, Ted, and go Steelers.           
 
Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
New Website: http://seanwilson.org
Daily Visitors: http://seanwilson.org/homepagelucy.html
SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>