Philosophy of Science 82 (5):1260-1271 (2015)

Robert Northcott
Birkbeck, University of London
Election prediction by means of opinion polling is a rare empirical success story for social science. I examine the details of a prominent case, drawing two lessons of more general interest: Methodology over metaphysics. Traditional metaphysical criteria were not a useful guide to whether successful prediction would be possible; instead, the crucial thing was selecting an effective methodology. Which methodology? Success required sophisticated use of case-specific evidence from opinion polling. The pursuit of explanations via general theory or causal mechanisms, by contrast, turned out to be precisely the wrong path—contrary to much recent philosophy of social science
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DOI 10.1086/683651
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References found in this work BETA

Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences.Jon Elster - 1989 - Cambridge University Press.
Interpretation and the Sciences of Man.Charles Taylor - 1971 - Review of Metaphysics 25 (1):3 - 51.

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Citations of this work BETA

Big Data and Prediction: Four Case Studies.Robert Northcott - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 81:96-104.
Predictive Success and Non-Individualist Models in Social Science.Richard Lauer - 2017 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 47 (2):145-161.

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