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The role of narratives in transferring rational choice models into political science


Quack, Alexandra; Herfeld, Catherine (2023). The role of narratives in transferring rational choice models into political science. History of Political Economy, 55(3):549-576.

Abstract

One striking observation in the history of rational choice models is that those models have not only been used in economics but been spread widely across the social and behavioral sciences. How do such model transfers proceed? By closely studying the early efforts to transfer such models by William Riker—a major protagonist in pushing the adoption of game-theoretic models in political science—this article examines the transfer process as one of “translation” by which abstract and mathematical rational choice models were constructed and modified such that they applied to a specific target system in a new domain. In this article, the argument is that to overcome a set of challenges that hampered the straightforward transfer of game-theoretic models into political science, Riker complemented theoretical and conceptual modifications of von Neumann and Morgenstern's game schemes with the use of narratives to turn them into applicable and testable models. As such, those narratives played a crucial role in enabling their transfer and ultimately facilitated the applicability of game-theoretic models in political science.

Abstract

One striking observation in the history of rational choice models is that those models have not only been used in economics but been spread widely across the social and behavioral sciences. How do such model transfers proceed? By closely studying the early efforts to transfer such models by William Riker—a major protagonist in pushing the adoption of game-theoretic models in political science—this article examines the transfer process as one of “translation” by which abstract and mathematical rational choice models were constructed and modified such that they applied to a specific target system in a new domain. In this article, the argument is that to overcome a set of challenges that hampered the straightforward transfer of game-theoretic models into political science, Riker complemented theoretical and conceptual modifications of von Neumann and Morgenstern's game schemes with the use of narratives to turn them into applicable and testable models. As such, those narratives played a crucial role in enabling their transfer and ultimately facilitated the applicability of game-theoretic models in political science.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, not_refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Dewey Decimal Classification:100 Philosophy
320 Political science
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > History
Social Sciences & Humanities > Economics and Econometrics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Narratives in science, History of rational choice theories, History of political science, Model transfer in science
Language:English
Date:1 June 2023
Deposited On:19 Feb 2024 07:37
Last Modified:31 Mar 2024 01:40
Publisher:Duke University Press
ISSN:0018-2702
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1215/00182702-10438939