We argue that computational social science, as an evolving field, lacks and requires organizing principles. A broad space separates the two constituent disciplines, which has to date been sidestepped rather than filled by applying increasingly complex computational models to problems in social science research.
Not only do we aver that incorporating theory is essential; but also, other fields have strengthened themselves when espousing organizing principles beyond those of their progenitors.
Computational social scientists may hope for computers to answer the questions they didn’t think or know to ask, extracting clever features and correlations from data. A theoretical approach to computational social science is needed to develop conjectural explanations, offer different ways of addressing issues, and propose qualitatively ways of interpreting and understanding social science problems.
For more information, see Dore and McCarthy (2022 at ICML HMCaT).