Does democracy promote peace between states? Immanuel Kant was among the first to argue “yes” in his 1795 essay, “Perpetual Peace.” “The republican constitution,” writes Kant, “…gives a favorable prospect for the desired consequence, i.e., perpetual peace. The reason is this: if the consent of the citizens is required…, nothing is more natural than that they would be very cautious….” Over 200 years later, Kant’s argument continues to attract attention because of its clear implications for our world.

This module examines this question—known as the “democratic peace theory”—using quantitative analyses. Students will use empirical tools to test whether the likelihood of interstate war is affected by countries’ regime types. To do so, they will survey extant research on the subject, wrestle with thought-provoking questions about appropriate ways to quantitatively measure theoretical concepts, develop a research design, and build and interpret empirical models.


The course is broadly divided into four thematic components. All are centered around a core idea: quantitative analysis is simply rhetoric for numbers. Just as sound argumentation involves clear, logically consistent, fallacy-free prose, sound quantitative analysis involves appropriate research design, valid conceptual measures, and the correct statistical technique.

  1. Why Quantitative? The Rhetoric of Numbers
  2. Setting up Your ‘Argument’: Research Design
  3. From Prose to Numbers and Back Again: Testing and Evaluating Empirical Results
  4. Sound Logic vs. Numerical Fallacies: Assessing Quantitative Analyses and their Limitations

The lecture topics are ordered to reflect the set of steps taken by academics when they conduct quantitative research.