Ontological debates have always been prominent in the philosophy of social science. Philosophers have typically conceived of such debates as pre-scientific attempts to reform social scientific practice, rather than as post-scientific reflections on a firm body of scientific knowledge. Two celebrated contemporary research programs in social ontology – collective intentionality and evolutionary game theory – also follow this approach. In this paper I illustrate their central elements and criticize their weak empirical foundations. I finish by reviewing some work that combines empirical evidence with theoretical reflection, and suggest that it constitutes the way forward in the philosophy of social science.