David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Sociological Theory 16 (2):193-204 (1998)
I argue that a theory's assumptions always are and ought to be unrealistic. Further, we should attempt to make them more unrealistic in order to increase a theory's fruitfulness. Many sociologists believe that a theory's assumptions ought to be empirically realistic. I contend that this criticism probably stems from the confusion of a theory's assumptions with its scope conditions. While Friedman's (1953) similar prescription is associated with the instrumentalist philosophy of science, I maintain that it is also consistent with the realist view if "unrealistic" is taken to mean "incomplete" rather than "untrue." I discuss a recent theory of the value of children by Friedman, Hechter, and Kanazawa (1994) to point out how assumptions differ from scope conditions and how empirically plausible and realistic hypotheses can be logically deduced from highly unrealistic assumptions. I then discuss Kollock's (1993a, 1993b) revision of Axelrod's (1984) Cooperation Theory as an example of when assumptions need to be revised
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
O. Lizardo (2009). Formalism , Behavioral Realism and the Interdisciplinary Challenge in Sociological Theory. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 39 (1):39-80.
Similar books and articles
Patsy Haccou & Wim J. Steen (1992). Methodological Problems in Evolutionary Biology. Acta Biotheoretica 40 (4).
Allan Hazlett & Christy Mag Uidhir (2011). Unrealistic Fictions. American Philosophical Quarterly 48 (1):33--46.
Uskali Mäki (1998). Is Coase a Realist? Philosophy of the Social Sciences 28 (1):5-31.
Uskali Mäki (2009). Unrealistic Assumptions and Unnecessary Confusions : Rereading and Rewriting F53 as a Realist Statement. In , The methodology of positive economics : Reflections on the Milton Friedman legacy. Cambridge University Press.
Hasok Chang (1997). On the Applicability of the Quantum Measurement Formalism. Erkenntnis 46 (2):143-163.
Caterina Marchionni (2006). Contrastive Explanation and Unrealistic Models: The Case of the New Economic Geography. Journal of Economic Methodology 13 (4):425-446.
Frank A. Hindriks (2005). Unobservability, Tractability and the Battle of Assumptions. Journal of Economic Methodology 12 (3):383-406.
Frank Hindriks (2008). False Models as Explanatory Engines. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 38 (3):334-360.
Aki Lehtinen & Jaakko Kuorikoski (2007). Unrealistic Assumptions in Rational Choice Theory. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 37 (2):115-138.
Steven Rappaport (1996). Abstraction and Unrealistic Assumptions in Economics∗. Journal of Economic Methodology 3 (2):215-236.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads10 ( #154,296 of 1,102,060 )
Recent downloads (6 months)4 ( #91,808 of 1,102,060 )
How can I increase my downloads?