Traditionally, philosophers of science have occupied themselves with a wide range of profound epistemological questions. They have struggled to reveal the scientific method, to describe correct procedures for acquiring knowledge, and to understand the logical structures underlying scientific reasoning. Additionally, philosophy of science has sought to demarcate scientific explanations from those that are "pseudo-scientific" and, perhaps most ambitiously, to determine the extent to which theories can uncover truths about a hidden, objective reality.
Add to the above list historical approaches to the study of science and the scope of inquiry widens further. Historians may wish to reconstruct past epochs of science according to some philosophical program or even by applying methods of sociology or psychology. The diversity of material that philosophers and historians of science study is considerable.
The distinction between historians and philosophers of science is explicitly made because, despite the necessary interaction, their objectives often differ, and failure to acknowledge this point has led to avoidable confusion. This confusion frequently arises due to inherent ambiguities pertaining to prescriptive versus descriptive elements in methodology discussions. The extent to which an investigator intends to describe actual scientific practice has, in many cases, been unclear. Because an explanation of how economic theories are actually chosen is an important end to this project, an effort is made to identify whether methodologists are practicing descriptive historicism or prescriptive philosophy.
As science itself has changed through time, so too has the study of scientific activity. Treatment of the theory choice issue in philosophy and history of science discussions has likewise varied. Regardless of the uneven attention that the topic has received, the study of theory choice is undeni
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Publication information: Book title: Canonizing Economic Theory:How Theories and Ideas Are Selected in Economics. Contributors: Christopher D. Mackie - Author. Publisher: M. E. Sharpe. Place of publication: Armonk, NY. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 12.
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