Canonizing Economic Theory: How Theories and Ideas are by Christopher D. Mackie

By Christopher D. Mackie

Historians of monetary proposal generally summarize, critique, and hint the improvement of current idea. historical past of inspiration literature offers information regarding the authors, chronology, and relative significance of influential works. more often than not lacking from the literature, even if, are solutions to questions on why monetary conception exists in its present shape: Why have economists selected the theories they need to symbolize the discipline's formal content material? What are the standards that be sure the worth of a idea, or of study usually; and, how have those standards replaced through the years? during this insightful and well-written paintings, Christopher Mackie analyzes how rules and theories are approved in economics, from the pre-publication part to the purpose at which, as soon as written, a thought enters the authorised physique literature. Drawing from economics, the historical past of technological know-how, and philosophy, Mackie exhibits how either empirical and non-empirical standards ascertain how conception will really evolve.

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However, there are significant problems with his position, both as subjective prescription and, perhaps even more so, as a historical account of science. Recall that, for Popper, the primary task of science is to falsify theories. The process of choosing a theory to tentatively accept, via corroborative criteria, is secondary. Presumably, scientists concern themselves with "reputable" theories and not with seemingly shoddy or implausible ones. Therefore, a scientist must really choose theories in two stages.

The prepublication phase of theory selection can be compared to the typical model of oligopoly used by microeconomists. Certainly a particularly well written, creative, or insightful piece has a better chance of being published than does a dull or poorly written one, just as a quality product has a better chance of selling than a shoddy one, given similar prices and availability. But one may speculate that other factors, which may be called barriers to entry, exist that can alter this competition where publication in the major journals is the reward.

However, given his appreciation of creativity and historical context, we may suspect in Whewell a distaste for strict canons explicating what distinguishes science from non-science and how theories can be objectively ranked. In this way, he anticipated Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend, discussed in the next section. The primary objective of the logical positivists of the Vienna Circle was to develop criteria for distinguishing between scientific (meaningful) and non-scientific (meaningless) statements.

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