Political Science, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Encyclopedia of Social Measurement, Volume 3, Kimberly Kempf-Leonard, Editor-in-Chief (Elsevier, 2005), pp. 805–810. Copyright © 2005, Elsevier Inc. Used by permission.


Thucydides (5th Century B.C.E.) is arguably the first person to engage in systematic social measurement. His lone surviving masterwork. The Peloponnesian War, stands as a founding text for the disciplines of history and political science. On its surface, The Peloponnesian War comprehensively and objectively chronicles the 27 year military struggle between Athens and Sparta from which the latter emerged victorious in 404 B.C.E. Yet Thucydides’ aim and approach in recounting the Peloponnesian War is extensively debated, often reflecting enduring disagreements about the philosophy and methodology of social science.