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Volume LII 2 - 2018

From the Social Sciences to One Social Science: Anti-utilitarian Foundations

Alain Caillé, pp. 69-94
In the light of the current fragmented state of social sciences, it may appear paradoxical to call for a general social science. After all, however, there already exist whole sections of such science under the form of what could be defined as the “economic model”, resting on the theory of rational (or quasi rational) choice. The problem with this economic model is that its applicability is local and partial at best. Some thirty internationally renowned social scientists (antropologists, economists, geographers, historians, philosophers, and sociologists from all over the world) met in 2015 at Château de Cerisy-la-Salle (France) and reached a consensus on the need and urgence to build a general social science on non- ou anti-utilitarian foundations. In the article, we illustrate the various arguments made in the discussion and focus on the epistemological difficulties inherent to the project. We conclude that such problems are mainly of an institutional character. The aim of developing a general social science requires recruiting professors and scholars who have received a twoor three-disciplinary education. Medicine needs generalist, and not only specialists. This is even truer of social science.
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