So deep and widespread is the belief, so eminent and able the believers in the value of the contemporary scientific study of politics, that there is not a little impatience with any attempt to question it. This volume makes no claim, of course, on the attention of those who are firmly convinced that the question is settled and the answer clear. But there may be another reason for impatience: a concern lest interminable discussion of how to study politics succeeds only in diverting us from the study of it. Sharing this concern, we venture nevertheless to contribute to the discussion. All of us who profess the study of politics are confronted with the prevailing scientific approach, no matter how practical our concern, how slight our interest in methodology, or how keen our desire to get on with the business of direct investigation. These essays articulate our response to that confrontation. They are offered in the hope that they may assist others in similar circumstances.
Our initial procedure was as unsophisticated as that of the student of politics who first seeks, or is offered, guidance to his subject. We did not begin by trying to define "the scientific study of politics," or by considering whether or in what sense it is proper to speak of "the" scientific study of politics. Important as these questions are, they belong properly at the conclusion rather than the beginning of our investigation. Nor did we begin by examining the classics which comprise the heritage of our discipline. While such an examination is certainly necessary to a full exploration of our question, it seemed better to begin nearer home.
We sought, therefore, those political scientists who have made major contributions to the contemporary study of politics, and we took general opinion in the profession as our guide. Thus guided, we selected certain voting studies and the works of Herbert A. Simon, Arthur F. Bentley, and Harold D. Lasswell for thorough examination. No doubt there will be some disagreement, especially with our omissions. It must be conceded that we overlook less popular writers whose contributions to political science may be of more intrinsic significance. We also ignore important contributions made by members of other disciplines, although it is significant that each of our authors is at home in several of the social sciences. Yet our survey of the literature and of the opinions of our colleagues -- an unscientific survey, to be sure -- suggests that there is general agreement that the men we have selected are among the . . .