PSC 281 Formal Models in Political Science
Political Science Field: Positive Theory
Typically offered every year
Spring 2014 — TR 12:30-13:45
The purpose of this course is to introduce positive political theory, i.e., the use of mathematical models in the study of politics. There are two main sources for these models: game theory and social choice theory. In general, the former provides models for interactions among strategic players whereas the latter provides a theoretical framework for the normative/axiomatic analysis of aggregating individual preferences. We will survey a broad range of models which are applicable to many aspects of political science ranging from voting, electoral systems, legislative politics, collective action and institutions to the strategic role of international organizations and the situations of international crisis bargaining. There are no formal technical prerequisites for the course but some familiarity with mathematical reasoning is certainly helpful.
This course explores the rational choice approach to understanding political phenomena. The main results of social choice theory, game theory, and spatial modeling are presented through application to a broad range of political situations: voting, legislative politics, political campaigns, comparison of electoral systems, the evolution of cooperation, and international relations. While there are no formal mathematical prerequisites for the course, some familiarity with mathematical reasoning and formalism is a must.