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    Opinion polling and election predictions

    Northcott, Robert (2015) Opinion polling and election predictions. Philosophy of Science 82 (5), pp. 1260-1271. ISSN 0031-8248.

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    Election prediction by means of opinion polling is a rare empirical success story for social science, but one not previously considered by philosophers. I examine the details of a prominent case, namely the 2012 US presidential election, and draw two lessons of more general interest: 1) 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. 2) 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.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Robert Northcott
    Date Deposited: 06 Nov 2015 13:49
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:13


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