Study/Discussion Questions on Satz and Ferejohn
1. S&F maintain that one cannot be a rational choice theorist without being a methodological individualist. They believe that this is true if one is an "internalist" about rational choice explanations, but not if one is an internalist. What is the difference between an internalist and an externalist interpretation of rational choice theory? (See pp. 76-7) Why, in their view, is an internalist about rational choice theory committed to methodological individualism.
2. According to their externalist view the preferences of agents are entirely "imputed." What do they mean? Under what circumstances will imputed "preferences" do just as well as preferences?
3. S&F maintain that structuralism can be compatible with rational choice theory. What is structuralism? Can you give an example of a structural explanation that is compatible with a rational choice explanation?
4. S&F write (p. 74) "In many social-scientific explanations, we are not interested in explaining a particular agent's behavior, but in the general regularities that govern the behavior of all agents. In such cases, it is not the agents' psychologies that primarily explain their behavior, but the environmental constraints they face." (p. 74) What do they mean? Are they right? Are these observations an argument for their "externalism" and against "internalism"?
5. On p. 84, S&F refer to Durkheim to defend the claim that sometimes the best explanations are not individualistic. What is their argument? Do you think they are right?