David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Philosophy of the Social Sciences 30 (1):67-88 (2000)
This article argues that a particular notion of rationality, more exactly a specific notion of legitimate inference, is presupposed by much work in the social sciences to their detriment. The author describes the notion of rationality he has in mind, explains why it is misguided, identifies where and how it affects social research, and illustrates why that research is weaker as a result. The notion of legitimate inference the author has in mind is one that believes inferences are guided by principles that are formal, universal and a priorithat is, that make no substantive, domain-specific empirical assumptions about the world. The author briefly provides a variety of reasons to be skeptical about such principles. Those reasons extend from broad philosophical considerations to quasi-empirical evidence. The author then argues that this notion of inference is involved with both the practice and the content of the social sciences in various ways. In terms of practice, this notion of inference lies behind the way statistical testing is generally done in the social sciences. In terms of content, the author argues that this notion of rationality is invoked, for example, in game theory and in rational expectations macroeconomics. In all cases, use of the formal rationality notion leads social scientists to put more faith in their results than is warranted and thus is an obstacle to doing better social science.
|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
Boudewijn de Bruin (2009). Overmathematisation in Game Theory: Pitting the Nash Equilibrium Refinement Programme Against the Epistemic Programme. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 40 (3):290-300.
Similar books and articles
Harold Kincaid (2004). Contextualism, Explanation and the Social Sciences. Philosophical Explorations 7 (3):201 – 218.
Agnès Festré & Pierre Garrouste (2008). Rationality, Behavior, Institutional, and Economic Change in Schumpeter. Journal of Economic Methodology 15 (4):365-390.
Julian Reiss (2009). Causation in the Social Sciences: Evidence, Inference, and Purpose. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 39 (1):20-40.
Deborah Perron Tollefsen (2002). Collective Intentionality and the Social Sciences. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 32 (1):25-50.
Steven I. Miller (1999). The Rationalitätstreit Revisited: A Note on Roth's "Methodological Pluralism". Philosophy of the Social Sciences 29 (3):339-353.
Martin Bunzl (2002). Evolutionary Games Without Rationality? Philosophy of the Social Sciences 32 (3):365-378.
Boudewijn de Bruin (2006). Popper's Conception of the Rationality Principle in the Social Sciences. In Ian Jarvie, David Miller & Karl Milford (eds.), Karl Popper: A Centenary Assessment: Selected Papers from Karl Popper 2002: Volume III: Science. Ashgate.
Alex Viskovatoff (2001). Rationality as Optimal Choice Versus Rationality as Valid Inference. Journal of Economic Methodology 8 (2):313-337.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads10 ( #146,834 of 1,101,655 )
Recent downloads (6 months)3 ( #116,934 of 1,101,655 )
How can I increase my downloads?