It could be argued, that the idea of "freedom" dictates much of US politics, that the idea of "nation" dictates much of Russian politics, that the idea "responsibility" directs German politics, and so on. Most political decision in most countries are based on this and similar ideological concepts.

A rare exception is Bhutan with its scientific approach to the gross national happiness: psychology is employed to define the goals for political action. This scientific approach to politics is different from the idea of scientists becoming politicians. There is nothing scientific about physicist Angela Merkel's politics.

But similar to the kingdom of Bhutan's approach to making its inhabitants happy, politics could be based on a scientific approach: it is theoretically possible to base political descisions not on ideology, interests of lobby groups, or the opinion of the people as expressed through elections or referendums, but on scientific discourse, research, and findings. This would possibly include a view of any decision as an experiment to be evaluated and adapted, depending on the outcome.

B. F. Skinner's Walden II portrays a society based on such principles, but he does not, as far as I remember, explicitly put forward a theoretical political concept that is independent of his belief in behaviourism, that is, a political theory independent of a specific methodology.

Is there any such political thought of conducting politics by scientific principles? What is it called and who are its thinkers and proponents?

  • 2
    @user4012 I was taking about the ideologiy underlying the political mainstream of the last half century. Also, you must not be familiar with the German Pirate Party if you think they have or want to shed the notion of responsibility that has been the heritage of German politics since the allied forces ended the Nazi regime. Maybe you have been misled by your private misconceptions of what the name "Pirate" signifies in relation to that party.
    – user2197
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 19:13
  • 4
    All of them? At least is what they all claim... fascism, communism, liberalism all have analysts claiming their system is best because of their interpretation of history, because the leader is chosen by God/destiny/whatever or (my favorite one) markets are free and economical agents have perfect information and act in a rational and honest way.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 22:48
  • 1
    The difficult point is usually how the outcomes are valued. Stability? Traditionalism? Raw production so more is produced? Equal opportunities so you are not condemned to be poor and live a miserable life because your parents were poor?
    – SJuan76
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 22:52
  • 5
    Is evidence-based policy the concept you are looking for?
    – Philipp
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 10:26
  • 2
    @Philipp I would say that is more of an approach than an ideology. But in that direction I would also examine Public Choice Theory en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_choice
    – user9790
    Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 22:22

8 Answers 8


A political philosophy that is based only upon science is impossible because politics necessarily involves value-based judgements that are not falsifiable or empirical in nature

You can run experiments to determine if a particular policy works as intended at achieving its goals. Just treat the particular policy as if it is a falsifiable hypothesis, e.g. there is empirical criteria that can be measured to tell you if it is working or not. That is a very large and dubious assumption in a lot of areas of political interest, because effective social science experiments are generally much harder to design that natural science experiments. But it's not necessarily impossible.

What you cannot do, is run an experiment to tell you what your policy goals should be. Those are value judgements. You can't run an experiment to test if your value judgements are correct. Here are a bunch of questions that are all very political and very not answerable by science:

  • What kind of speech should be allowed in society?
  • Under what circumstances should abortion take place?
  • Should we value the individual or the collective good?
  • How do we define the individual or collective good?
  • Should we prioritize order or liberty?
  • What is justice?

There is no experiment that you can run to answer these questions, and questions like these are the ones that are the most important and interesting bits of political philosophy.

Your Bhutan example fails to be scientific also

From your own wikipedia link (emphasis added):

GNH is distinguishable from Gross Domestic Product by valuing collective happiness as the goal of governance, by emphasizing harmony with nature and traditional values as expressed in the 9 domains of happiness and 4 pillars of GNH.

Choosing to value collective happiness as the goal of governance is not a scientific choice. Why not value individual happiness? Why emphasize harmony with nature and traditional values? Why not conquest over nature and alternative values?

The choice of what the goal of governance should be cannot be made scientifically.

  • I agree. However, one could use the scientific knowledge we have on the foundations of morality[1] to depict a political ideal which satisfies a maximum of individuals holding different moral matrices. [1] see The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 19:29
  • @JulesRandolph Choosing to maximize that is a value judgement. Why should we cater to maximum number of different moral preferences if some of those preferences are going to be wrong? Shouldn't we value right over wrong (however it is defined)?
    – Joe
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 23:53
  • A complicating factor is that science is itself political, in that the content of its own philosophy is politically contentious, and the philosophical views that people have of science tend to dovetail with their overall political views.
    – Steve
    Commented Jun 12, 2020 at 0:50

Did you think of a Technocracy:

Technocracy is a proposed system of governance in which decision-makers are selected on the basis of their expertise in a given area of responsibility, particularly with regard to scientific or technical knowledge. [... ] Leadership skills for decision-makers are selected on the basis of specialized knowledge and performance, rather than political affiliations or parliamentary skills.


The only ideology I know where the original founders explicitly state that it is based on scientific principles and adheres to scientific standards, is Marxism.

From Wikipedia: "Scientific socialism is the term first used by Friedrich Engels to describe the social-political-economic theory first pioneered by Karl Marx. The purported reason why this form of socialism is "scientific socialism" (as opposed to "utopian socialism") is that it is said to be based on the scientific method, in that its theories are held to an empirical standard, observations are essential to its development, and these can result in changes and/or falsification of elements of the theory." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_socialism

However, most ideologies are not actively hostile to science and even claim their program is at least supported by factual evidence (and thus, by science or at least scientists).

Actively hostile to science is relatively rare. The only examples I know are the extreme rightwing conservative and religious ideologies such as those of Islamic State and Boko Haram ("Western Education is unclean").

  • 11
    Well... Since Marxists consider worth as "objective", it would be rather based on pseudo-science
    – David
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 7:46
  • 2
    I'm aware of definitions for value and price but not for "worth". It doesn't sound as if it's part of classical Marxism but if you have a source I'd be interested. It's irrelevant to the question and answer though, IMO. The question is "Is there any such political thought of conducting politics by scientific principles?" - regardless of whether this works out, is correct, or even actually implemented. Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 20:46
  • 2
    Sorry. I used "worth" instead of "value" due to a mistranslation ("Wert" in the original text)
    – David
    Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 22:32

Scientocracy is a government based around basing public policies on science. One proponent of scientocracy is American physician Peter A. Ubel, who describes it like this:

"Scientocracy: Policy making that reflects human nature. When I talk about Scientocracy, then, I'm not talking about a world ruled by behavioral scientists, or any other kind of scientists. Instead, I am imagining a government of the people, but informed by scientists. A world where people don't argue endlessly about whether educational vouchers will improve schools, whether gun control will reduce crime, or whether health savings accounts can lower health care expenditures,... but one instead where science has a chance to show us whether vouchers, gun control laws, and health savings accounts work and, if so, under what conditions."

It was even referred to as far back as 1933 by Luxembourgish-American inventor and writer Hugo Gernsback as "the direction of the country and its resources by Scientists and not by Technicians". This form of government, however, has not currently been attempted by any nation & currently remains as a hypothetical form of governance.

Some argue that scientocracy can be a good form of governance since studies prove that those with a higher IQ tend to have a higher emotional intelligence & scientists tend to have a higher IQ than others, having smart people who will use scientific evidence and facts to try to solve national problems seems like a generally good idea, and scientist tend to value honesty, as do other smart people. However, many against this form of governance, or at least critical of it, argue that even if they have high standards, scientists can fall victim to the trappings of other human beings, with some doing things like falsify studies for political reasons.

Scientocracy differs from the average dictatorship because similar to certain forms of technocracy, some forms of Scientocracy can include democracy with the experts elected by the people or chosen by elected officials, but requiring certain conditions and credentials for those being put into positions of authority. Without those credentials, whatever the scientific society makes them, a potential candidate can't run. Even more autocratic versions should still be based around having scientific experts who rise through the ranks based on meritocracy instead of through traditional power plays. However, this form of governance is currently hypothetical and hasn't been implemented in a large scale in any country as of late, but hopefully this answers the question by being a scientific political ideology.

  • 1
  • 2
    @JustMe Thanks, I added one of your links to the answer since it is one of the common arguments against scientocracy. However, some argue that there are studies that say scientists tend to have a higher IQ, EQ, and value for honest than the average person and many scientocracy supporters argue the fact that some scientists change their advice based on politics or social polices doesn't mean that scientific minds should be seen as 'no better than other humans', so I guess it depends on your information and where you stand on the issue of this form of government.
    – Tyler Mc
    Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 23:12
  • 2
    @Steve Answer edited. And you're right about honest science, but many scientists fight for their beliefs in spite of political pressure (web.archive.org/web/20050829130606/http://www.ucsusa.org/…, web.archive.org/web/20040924022245/http://…) so those who are pro scientocracy may argue that. While doctors once recommended smoking, some doctors have opposed smoking since the 1600s (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_smoking#Early_opposition). Still, good points!
    – Tyler Mc
    Commented Jun 12, 2020 at 14:08
  • 1
    @Steve Ok, now I get it and I agree. Like I said, this is me simply answering the question 'Is there a scientific political ideology?'. Scientocracy does meet that criteria, even if there is a risk that it may not workout as intended with the mix of political pressure and science.
    – Tyler Mc
    Commented Jun 12, 2020 at 14:46
  • 1
    Agreed, it is a pertinent answer to the question, but I found several of the claims made dubious, including the assertion that scientists value honesty, or that the system described would indeed be free of "ideology, interests, and opinions" as specified in the question. For example, has any evidence proven that scientists are incorrigibly honest when it comes specifically to political matters or their own interests - it's easy to be honest about things that don't matter much. You don't necessarily need to edit your answer, these are just some additional food for thought.
    – Steve
    Commented Jun 12, 2020 at 15:10

A supplemental addition to the other answers...

There is a neglected unseemly factor in scientific methodology, the courtier's ideology of seeking funding and sponsorship. To acquire sponsorship sometimes requires making and balancing various sponsor-required concessions or compromises, such that the spirit and quality of both the work and worker is diluted or even lost. At its worst such ideology inspires roguish careers spent pandering to sponsors and grasping for credit.

Sponsoring large teams of scientists, organized in bureaucratic hierarchies sometimes has the side-effect of producing bitter cynics and hopeful subversives co-evolving in a kiss up kick down culture.

Going back a few centuries, the fawning dedications of famous scientific treatises appear much the same. In modern textbooks those scientist are giants, but in many a source-work's dedication a noble boot becomes the scientist's lollipop. Scientists of that age must have competed bitterly against each other for noble, (later State, and Academy, and Corporate), attentions. Outside the gatekeepers are the outcasted cranks, whose tenacity inspires popular mad scientist legends. The unacknowledged trait common to every one of these is a traditional conservative's ambition to move up the existing social pyramid and stay.

  • On review, I agree with the downvoter -- this needs reworking. Traditional conservatism should be the leading item, perhaps evolving from the ideals of scientific meritocracy which glibly portrays a reliance on OPM as not at all dangerous.
    – agc
    Commented Aug 4, 2019 at 15:57

Aristokrati also has to be mentioned.

But the problem with all of those systems where the wisest people lead is that they are not democracies.

There is a Simpsons episode where all the wise people of Springfield tries to lead the city but have to resign to Mayor Quimby. Even though it is satire it explains nicely why democracy is better.

  • 1
    Currently there are around 700 Simpson episodes, this answer would be better if it specified which one is being cited.
    – agc
    Commented Jun 13, 2020 at 11:02

I have thought this for some years and written some texts about it:


A blog of texts that aims to construct and argue for a political philosophy/outlook that's non-contradictory. That means that it desires to be so fundamentally motivated that it's neutral "across" previous and current political ideologues or stances. As to even be able to deal away with the idea of "ideologue" and perhaps be able to coin the idea of "scientific politics".

To talk about "science", I would say that the starting point is the so called naturalistic epistemology, the most "objectively" conceivable epistemological context, which is broadly: physical science & empirical psychology. And which considers in particular truth as it appears "out-side of subject" as well as how it appears relative to subjects. Additionally it depends on what one requires from "being science". But this cannot be entirely subjective, in order to appear to other people. Or then one had to have a way to disprove other people as "being wrong".

If one's reference is actual physics or physical science, then I find that the "scientific political ideology" is: biology without any hard-enforced rules. The reason for this is that one deviates from physical science's standard as soon as one's observation starts to "depend on subject". Thus, as soon as one adds "interpretation", then it starts to deviate from objectivity. Since many political rules are "subjective biases", then they are incompatible with physical science's standard of science.

On the "other end" of naturalistic epistemology, if one's reference deviates from actual physics or physical science, then there's "fully a priori", i.e. beliefs, ideas with little to no physical correspondence, consistency etc. In this context one can construct any truth by "having people believe". Then one's "scientific politics" would be "anything that people agree on". But this is incompatible with physical science's standard.

A particular problem:

Can it be scientific, if it contains contradictions or "fuzzy knowledge"? Can it contain biases? Can it contain fallacies?

Also, what are the requirements for "political science":

  • How many observations does one need to show in order to make a law?
  • If 1% of people cause problems, then is that enough to prohibit the other 99% from doing something?
  • ...


Politics is the exercise of power over others to make choices the affect a society.

Science can help you to implement a set of objective, but it can't tell you what your objectives will be.

When, for example, one determines that "gross national happiness" is the goal to which political will is to be applied, this is a political choice. So is the collective choice of those who have power to obey that directive. So are the choices regarding how to define happiness. None of that is science. It is moral and political philosophy.

Science doesn't have an answer to how societies should manage themselves. It can inform the answer to those questions, but it can't answer it.

You must log in to answer this question.