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The Fable of the Bees and Its Legacy for Social Sciences

DOI: 10.4236/sm.2023.134013, PP. 253-270

Keywords: Mandeville, Unintended Consequences, Human Action, Individualistic Methodology

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This essay aims to highlight the importance of some aspects of Mandeville’s work for the subsequent development of the nascent social sciences. His contribution to the theory of unintended consequences has in fact influenced generations of scholars following him and is still extremely relevant today. The study of the unintended consequences of intentional human actions is one of the main tools of that “toolbox” from which the social scientist draws in carrying out his research work within an individualistic methodology. It is no coincidence that it has been and is still considered one of the main problems from which the social sciences originated. The paper will therefore try to deepen the understanding of the originality and innovativeness of Mandeville’s thought in relation to this aspect of the social sciences’ methodology.


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