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Case Selection, Conceptualizations and Basic Logic in the Study of War

Benjamin A. Most and Harvey Starr
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 26, No. 4 (Nov., 1982), pp. 834-856
DOI: 10.2307/2110974
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2110974
Page Count: 23
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Case Selection, Conceptualizations and Basic Logic in the Study of War
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Abstract

The purpose of this Workshop article is to augment the emerging literature on problems of "cumulation" in quantitative international politics in general and international conflict in particular. This paper suggests that the attainment of answers to the questions posed by scholars who are interested in international conflict is often logically precluded by both their conceptualizations of conflict and war and by their method of selecting cases. Further, it reasons that the question of how determinants in the process that leads to war are logically related to one another and to conflict itself is as important as identifying which factors are the determinant. Although these contentions are neither original nor complex, the argument here is that a general failure to understand or recognize such rather basic, logical problems has impeded the development of a base of varifiable, replicable and generalizable knowledge about the causes and consequences of international conflict.

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