Descriptive-Causal Generalizations or 'Empirical Laws' in the Social Sciences


Location: Hesburgh Center, Room C103

Gary Goertz, professor of political science, University of Arizona

Most scholars believe that there are few strong empirical regularities in the social sciences. Gary Goertz will argue that this is not true. Rather, he will demonstrate—using many examples from peace and conflict studies—that strong descriptive-causal generalizations can easily be found.

Why have scholars not noticed these strong causal generalizations and regularities? Statistical methods and practices may prevent one from easily “seeing” and analyzing descriptive-causal generalizations. However, they arise naturally in qualitative approaches to methodology.

Goertz’s interests include conflict management and conflict resolution, for which he and Paul Diehl have received a National Science Foundation grant. Other research interests include the theory of international institutions and norms, for which he has also received an NSF grant and published a book: International Norms and Decision Making: A Punctuated Equilibrium Model. He is currently working on a project on the evolution of international institutions, focusing on how they adopt conflict management dimensions.

Sponsored by the Kellogg Institute for International Studies; cosponsored by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies