Business & Economics Books:

Beyond Rhetoric and Realism in Economics

Towards a Reformulation of Methodology


Paperback / softback

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Beyond Rhetoric and Realism in Economics by Thomas Boylan
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Recent years have seen a resurgence of interest in the philosophy of economics, with an array of different methodological positons trying to establish the primacy of their intellectual positions. Two of these in particular have undermined the hegemony once enjoyed by the positvist philosophies of Khun and Popper. The first is represented by 'rhetoric' as expounded in the works of McCloskey, Klamer and others. Attacking what they say as imperiously prescriptive methodologies emanating from philosophy of science they have sought to widden the economic conversation , frequently by introducing work from other disciplines. In contrast, the realists including Lawson and Maki take issue with the relativising tendencies of the rhetoric school and argue that scientific realism is the most compellig framework for economics. Beyond Rhetoric and Realism in Economics provides a clear introduction to both of these postions but also shows why neither is a satisfactory resolutioin of the methodological issues facing economics. In direct opposition to these positions, the authors construct and develop an alternative framework, which they call 'causal holism' .With its origins inthe work of Quine and van Frassen, this shifts the focus of attention onto the role of economic models, especially their descriptive adequacy and provides a challenging analysis of economic theory , causality and explanation. Moreover this new approach provides a powerful framework for a Kaldor-type methodological critique of neo-classical economics, which is developed in detail. This is then used to undermine Freidman's famous methodological defence of mainstream economics.
Release date NZ
June 8th, 1995
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
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