Is it possible that all of the social sciences could employ a common methodology? If so, what would it be? This article adresses these questions. It takes off from James Coleman’s recent book, The Foundations of Social Theory. Coleman’s social theory is built on the postulate that individuals are rational actors, the same postulate that most of modern economics is built upon. This article critiques the use of this postulate in economics, and thus questions whether it is a useful building block for the methodological foundations of social science research. It proposes an adaptive view of human behavior as an alternative in which preferences are conditioned by past experience. The work of Joseph Schumpeter is discussed as an exemplar of the methodology advocated here.
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