Structuralist constraints and mathematical social theorizing

Erkenntnis 38 (3):351 - 370 (1993)
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Abstract

Several case studies and theoretical reports indicate that the structuralist concept of a constraint has a central role in the reconstruction of physical theories. It is surprising that there is, in the literature, only little theoretical discussion on the relevance of constraints for the reconstruction of social scientific theories. Almost all structuralist reconstructions of social theorizing are vacuously constrained. Consequently, constraints are methodologically irrelevant.In this paper I try to show that there really exist constraint-type assumptions in mathematical modelling in the social sciences. Methodologically constraints have exactly the same role in the context of social mathematical modelling as they have in physical theories. In typical cases of mathematical modelling in the social sciences, the related constraints work as empirical hypotheses and should be tested by statistical means.

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