Your question refers to the domain of rational choice theory (RCT). Many leading figures in economics, e.g. the neoclassical school of Milton Friedman, advocated the use of unrealistic assumptions in economic theory. But there's also a lot of opposition within economics.
However, as far as I can see, what is under discussion is not the unrealistic status of these assumptions, but their role and their necessity. None of the participants in the dispute question that unrealistic assumptions are, in fact, unrealistic.
An interesting historical case study is Roy Harrod's formulation of the first modern model of economic growth (1939)
and subsequent criticism by Robert Solow (1956) and Joan Robinson (1956). Harrod's model contains some interesting unrealistic assumptions, among them its aggregate production function, which was criticized as "unrealistic" by Robinson. In turn, the discussion between Robinson and Solow also concerned the need of unrealistic assumptions and is known today as the Cambridge capital controvery.
In the social sciences, Pierre Bourdieu's critique of RCT's homo oeconomicus has had some impact.
More generally, the underlying point of your question is the role unrealistic assumptions and false models play in science and the in social sciences.
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