In this wide ranging, thought provoking, book Tony Lawson further advances the basic thesis of his much acclaimed Economics and Reality that social theorising, and in particular economics, need to give a more explicit and systematic attention than hitherto to considering the nature of their subject matter. Formally put, the author continues his call for an ontological turn in social theorising. Tony Lawson finds the discipline of economics to be in a non too-healthy condition, and demonstrates that the problems arise largely because of a widespread tendency of economists to make stipulations on method independently of considerations of context or conditions of analysis. In addressing this situation the author argues for a radical reorientation of discipline allowing a more pluralistic forum, one that is accommodating of ontology and critical thinking amongst much else. The emphasis on pluralism is basic to Lawson's argument.
Far from being a polemic against the currently dominant set of economic practices, this excellent book sustains the thesis that if economics is to be saved from itself it is highly desirable to seek, where feasible, a continual dialogue between all interested parties. The coverage of the Reorienting Economics includes commentaries on the current state of economics, the nature of ontological theorising (including the nature of its consequences), possibilities for social explanation, the scope of economics, evolutionary thinking, the contribution of heterodox traditions including feminist economics, post Keynesianism and old institutionalism, the historical process whereby economics came to take its current orientation, and much else. As with Lawson's previous writings, Reorienting Economics will be of interest not only to economists but also to philosophers, the variety of social theorists, and indeed anyone interested in understanding the current state of social theorising and contemplating how it might be improved.