Economics Imperialism and Solution Concepts in Political Science

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 40 (3):347-374 (2010)
Abstract
Political science and economic science . . . make use of the same language, the same mode of abstraction, the same instruments of thought and the same method of reasoning. (Black 1998, 354) Proponents as well as opponents of economics imperialism agree that imperialism is a matter of unification; providing a unified framework for social scientific analysis. Uskali Mäki distinguishes between derivational and ontological unification and argues that the latter should serve as a constraint for the former. We explore whether, in the case of rational-choice political science, self-interested behavior can be seen as a common causal element and solution concepts as the common derivational element, and whether the former constraints the use of the latter. We find that this is not the case. Instead, what is common to economics and rational-choice political science is a set of research heuristics and a focus on institutions with similar structures and forms of organization
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