Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/750

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scientific exactness, at least as much may be claimed for Politics, and the composite study may advance in logical perfection at an equal rate with the elementary studies.


The general result of these considerations is that there are a variety of solid reasons which account not only for the reputation acquired by Politics of being an inherently unscientific study, but also for the study itself having advanced only a very short way toward scientific completeness. But most or all of these reasons have been seen to be of a kind which hold out a good promise for the future, and thereby afford an ample encouragement to the use of a strictly logical method in political investigations, and to the attempt to create a scientific structure of ever-increasing completeness in this region, as well as in others more familiarly associated with the name of Science.

A science need not be built on universal, nor even upon general, propositions; and partial, particular, or even probable premises may justify conclusions, drawn with logical correctness, which may be a firm basis for action. Where truths are by their nature restricted in time and place, or where evidence is yet lacking to demonstrate their actual generality, the assemblage of such truths will carry with it a fragmentary and hypothetical character which may to some seem incompatible with the rigid demands of Science. But where the investigator himself proceeds in strict accordance with the severest logical requirements, conducting his ratiocination with the utmost precision, and distinguishing at all points the possible or probable from the certain, the universal or general from the particular, and proof from plausibility or mere conjecture, it matters little what name is given to the branch of inquiry concerned. It lacks no one of the essential elements and recommendations of the best and earliest-established of the physical sciences. Its terms are submitted to the same process of definition, its subject-matter to a like arrangement into groups and classes, genera and species, and the resulting propositions are reached by a course of reasoning as logically irrefutable.

There are, indeed, certain plain indications that the study of Politics is already, even by practical statesmen, being placed on a platform of far higher scientific exactness than ever before.

One of these indications is the large and discriminating use made of statistics. The collection and due use of statistics belong to very modern times; and owing to popular prejudices and social obstacles—such, for instance, as still exist in England with regard to the collection of agricultural and religious statistics—they have not yet received anything like the extension of which they are capable. Nevertheless, it has become the fashion for all the more advanced Governments to rival each other in the breadth, fullness, arrangement, and clearness of the numerical information they obtain on all the groups of national facts which are susceptible of being tabulated in a systematic shape.