It is time to create new social science departments that reflect the breadth and complexity of the problems we face as well as the novelty of 21st-century science. These would include departments of biosocial science, network science, neuroeconomics, behavioral genetics and computational social science.
The social sciences offer equal promise for improving human welfare; our lives can be greatly improved through a deeper understanding of individual and collective behavior. But to realize this promise, the social sciences, like the natural sciences, need to match their institutional structures to today's intellectual challenges.
We are, first of all, not solitary creatures and second of all, we are deeply embedded in the lives of others. It's very easy to forget that and to engage in an atomistic fallacy - where we think that all we have to do is study the individual components of a system in order to understand the system.
It is the spread of the good things that vindicates the whole reason we live our lives in networks. If I was always violent to you or gave you germs, you would cut the ties to me and the network would disintegrate. In a deep and fundamental way, networks are connected to goodness, and goodness is required for networks to emerge and spread.
We're not just social animals in the conventional way that people think. It's not just a bunch of us who hang out together. We have a very specific pattern of ties, and they have a particular shape and structure that is encoded in our genes. It means that human beings have evolved to live their lives embedded in social networks.