ssrn-id799584 - Rational Choice Scientic Method and Social...

Info icon This preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Rational Choice, Scientific Method and Social Scientism Bongo Adi a a Regional Economic Development, Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Japan Kenneth M. Amaeshi b b Warwick Business School, Coventry, United Kingdom Suminori Tokunaga a Abstract The eighteenth-century introduction of the scientific method of the natural sciences to the study of social phenomena draws a line between moral philosophy – that as- pect of ancient and medieval philosophy that dealt with social issues – and the social sciences as known today. From the onset, the emerging social science, or rather, its epistemological orientation to ‘social scientism,’ was vigorously challenged by many critics who saw it as a reductionist and mechanistic understanding of human beings and their society. In recent times, this criticism has narrowed down to the critique of the rationalist assumptions or rational choice theory on which much of social sci- entism is built. Critics of the natural science ideal in the social sciences argue that the subject matter of the social sciences – human beings, their society and interac- tions – is so complex and different a system that subjecting it to the crucible of the scientific method of the natural, positivist sciences not only limits its understanding but leaves it with an abrasive and distorting impact. In the same manner, critiques of rational choice theory argue that it is a reductionism that does not account for a significant proportion of human actions and motives. What seems to be advocated for is a sort of social science method that addresses the shortcomings of the scientific method applied to social phenomena and employs a more robust model of human action that supersedes the rational choice model. This paper however posits that rationalist assumptions or rational choice theory is not peculiar to social scientism but lies at the foundation of modern and contemporary science and its method. We trace out the centrality of individual rationality assumptions in the general epis- temology of the scientific method and social scienticism within the context of the centuries-old debate on the limitations of the scientific method in the social sciences. Our thesis hints at the impossibility of a modern and contemporary scientific model of either nature (physics) or society that does not assume individualist or subjective rationality. 7 September 2005
Image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Key words: Scientific method, social scientism, rational choice theory 1 Rationality in Science It is often said that the distinctive feature of the Enlightenment, which rev- olutionized science and accumulation of technological capabilities, lies in its exaltation of human reason, that is, rationality. The emphasis on reason, ac- cording to this thinking, distinguished the resulting modern science from what had preceded in the ancient and medieval era. While this is true, it is only part of the story. A philosophical excursus into the nature and process of science
Image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern