In general, I shy away from using the term “social science,” because I do not think that economists can aspire to the same level of falsifiability as physicists. I believe that the difference between social science and natural science boils down to this:
In natural science, there are relatively many falsifiable propositions and relatively few attractive interpretive frameworks. In the social sciences, there are relatively many attractive interpretive frameworks and relatively few falsifiable propositions.The reason that there are relatively few falsifiable propositions in the context of social phenomena is that there are many causal factors, and decisive experiments are rarely possible. Social phenomena are characterized by high causal density, to borrow a term from James Manzi.
As a result, economics is closer to history than to physics. If a historian wants to examine the causes of the decline of Rome, or the decline of empires in general, he or she will provide an interpretive framework. That framework cannot be falsified, but readers can compare it to other frameworks and make judgments about its plausibility.
. . .Economists who employ models think of themselves as “doing science,” meaning that they are generating falsifiable propositions. However, in practice, they rarely reject their preferred models. Instead, they explain away anomalous observations. In that sense, they are really using their preferred models as interpretive frameworks.
I recommend reading the whole post as he throws in a couple of examples.