Is there a formalized version of politics out there? I think political debates on TV today are just like spewing junk. We really need to formalize and logically analyze politics (in my opinion). Anyone knows any books or papers on this?

What are the fundamental concepts of politics? What are the axioms? What is the difference between capitalism, socialism, conservativism etc. in terms of logic?

I also welcome anything on axiomatic economics or social sciences. (Even natural sciences -i.e. Hilbert's sixth problem- in connection with social sciences if you will).

  • Badiou's Metapolitics might not be the worst place to look -- what have you found so far?
    – Joseph Weissman
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 12:25
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    I wanted to address politics alone too. If you desire to develop a system of politics, you will likely always run into the problem of your own will to power which can be quite subtle and ultimately destructive. The only thing which can rise above the system of self-destructive capitalism is a new organizing principle in the nature of a "God" as Heidegger foresaw. Due to our will to power this may have to arise organically, without intention. If we survive long enough.
    – Gordon
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 17:26
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    And at the root of any politics must be understanding of anthropology, and philosophical anthropology. Who is, what is man? I suspect you will find will, will to power, sex, aggression, the need for the mega-narrative, and this overlaid with the process of human rearing: indoctrination and inculturation.
    – Gordon
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 17:37
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    @gordon I don't know. I don't think that we must know a lot of anthropology to formalize politics. We just need a common formal language and politicians will tell their axioms based on their anthropology. Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 18:43
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    Maybe not a lot. Of course, some of this knowledge could come from our own life experience. But we should read the anthropologists and the philosophers to try to keep them in business. And it doesn't hurt to have some impressive citations in your work.
    – Gordon
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 20:55

3 Answers 3


Don't know if it will fit your specific needs, but there is a science devoted to the deductive study of human action: Praxeology.

Praxeology rests on the fundamental axiom that individual human beings act, that is, on the primordial fact that individuals engage in conscious actions toward chosen goals.

Let us consider some of the immediate implications of the action axiom. Action implies that the individual's behavior is purposive, in short, that it is directed toward goals. Furthermore, the fact of his action implies that he has consciously chosen certain means to reach his goals. Since he wishes to attain these goals, they must be valuable to him; accordingly he must have values that govern his choices. That he employs means implies that he believes he has the technological knowledge that certain means will achieve his desired ends. Let us note that praxeology does not assume that a person's choice of values or goals is wise or proper or that he has chosen the technologically correct method of reaching them. All that praxeology asserts is that the individual actor adopts goals and believes, whether erroneously or correctly, that he can arrive at them by the employment of certain means.

All action in the real world, furthermore, must take place through time; all action takes place in some present and is directed toward the future (immediate or remote) attainment of an end. If all of a person's desires could be instantaneously realized, there would be no reason for him to act at all. Furthermore, that a man acts implies that he believes action will make a difference; in other words, that he will prefer the state of affairs resulting from action to that from no action. Action therefore implies that man does not have omniscient knowledge of the future; for if he had such knowledge, no action of his would make any difference. Hence, action implies that we live in a world of an uncertain, or not fully certain, future. Accordingly, we may amend our analysis of action to say that a man chooses to employ means according to a technological plan in the present because he expects to arrive at his goals at some future time.

The fact that people act necessarily implies that the means employed are scarce in relation to the desired ends; for, if all means were not scarce but superabundant, the ends would already have been attained, and there would be no need for action. Stated another way, resources that are superabundant no longer function as means, because they are no longer objects of action. Thus, air is indispensable to life and hence to the attainment of goals; however, air being superabundant is not an object of action and therefore cannot be considered a means. Where air is not superabundant, it may become an object of action, for example, where cool air is desired and warm air is transformed through air conditioning. Even with the absurdly unlikely advent of Eden (or what a few years ago was considered in some quarters to be an imminent "postscarcity" world), in which all desires could be fulfilled instantaneously, there would still be at least one scarce means: the individual's time, each unit of which if allocated to one purpose is necessarily not allocated to some other goal.

Such are some of the immediate implications of the axiom of action. We arrived at them by deducing the logical implications of the existing fact of human action, and hence deduced true conclusions from a true axiom. Apart from the fact that these conclusions cannot be "tested" by historical or statistical means, there is no need to test them since their truth has already been established.

For further reading on topic:

Praxeology as the Method of the Social Sciences by Murray N. Rothbard

Human Action: A Treatise on Economics by Ludwig von Mises

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    This is exactly what I am looking for! Thank you! I wouldn't say I understand everything you wrote but this seems scientific enough for me. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 13:59
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    I would add some structuralism and a formal language and we are ready to talk about politics. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 14:06
  • I just cherry picked the basic axiom and its direct implications from an introductory article. There are countless books, articles and an entire school of economics built over this topic. I find fascinating to approach the topic human action from a deductive point of view, starting from a basic axiom and building knowledge using sound logic and reason. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 14:09

Well, let me start by saying that the fundamental concepts of politics are to create power, to create obligations, and create some type of economic world. In some sense, I would say you can't really turn to axiomatic theory (as I know in math) to respond to politics, you might be able to root some thermal dynamic laws (such as entropy to the social part of politics). The differences between capitalism and socialism are that capitalism is an economic system based on the Protestant religion. Capitalism is a system that makes the rich richer, and the poor poorer. Socialism is a political movement based on the society and based on the equality of everybody.

  • You made a lot of strong assertions without any evidence or reasoning to back it... Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 12:54
  • Well, the reference to the thermal dynamic law is a social theory I am working on, and then the other assertions are a regroupmentt of about 20 different political theories, and also some studies I have read. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 13:49
  • I don't think these would fit as axioms of politics. They are not general enough and too pessimistic imo. But thanks for the answer. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 17:16

It's very difficult to find axioms at the heart of politics because if you hold to an axiom in politics, your opposition will find a way to use it against you. It leads to frustrating axioms that start to sound more like tautologies than anything else. I'd say "There are no black or whites. Everything is grey in politics; except when it's convenient for your cause, then everything is black or white." I'd expect the axioms of politics to be odd structures like that.

One thing you could use to divine axioms for politics is to use the age old definition of politics: "Two people having an argument and trying to win that argument by convincing a third person to take their side." That is really the art of politics. From this point of view, one could likely derive axioms for politics from linguistic disciplines like semantics and pragmatics. Those disciplines also help for understanding why the debates on TV are the way they are. You start to see, for instance, why it's advantageous to deflect the question and then talk for several minutes about their campaign platform instead. Sure, it'd be nice to get a straight answer in one of these debates, but if you look at the pragmatics, you find that it's actually an ineffective way of communicating due to differences in contexts between the speaker and the widely varying audience ranging from the social elite to the less educated poor.

As for the different ideals you mentioned (capitalism, socialism, etc.), the path I would recommend for exploring them logically is to first do a deep dive into utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is a fascinating tool because the maximization of utility sounds so logically appealing, but the naive approaches for defining utility fall apart rapidly under any decent logical analysis. After tearing apart a few of these definitions, you start to get an appreciation for why successful ideals such as capitalism and socialism are wary of being pinned down to a set of axioms which could be fit into the utilitarian mold while at the same time they seek to act "for the greater good."

  • What you are saying is quite disturbing for me. I was have always thought that social sciences are like natural sciences and can be treated the same axiomatic way. I wil try to find some axioms nevertheless. My first thought was utility too. But concepts such as liberty are just fancy words? Really? Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 16:53
  • I've just found this: menchaca.bol.ucla.edu/Teaching/IntroFormalPoliticalTheory.pdf Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 16:58
  • @MetaLogicianWannabe If the definition of a "fancy word" is "any word that does not describe an axiomatic concept," then one could say that "liberty" is a fancy word. Myself, what I find fascinating about the social sciences is that they have encouraged me to think in terms of assumptions rather than axioms (a fine distinction taught to me by this answer). If one believes in materialism, one can logically state that social sciences...
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 19:35
  • ... supervene on natural sciences, so thus can be treated axiomatically upon the axioms of natural sciences. However, there are two issues that tend to arise. The first is dealing with those who do not agree with this assumption (those who believe there is something like a "human spirit" which does not obey natural law). The second is that, even if you assume supervenence, the number of degrees of freedom that arise when dealing with people on a large scale are so astonishing that one must make modeling assumptions to reduce them.
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 19:37
  • This makes it difficult to distinguish the natural consequences of these assumptions for true axioms regarding reality.
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 19:38

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