Critical Realism in Economics: Development and Debate

Critical Realism in Economics: Development and Debate

Critical Realism in Economics: Development and Debate

Critical Realism in Economics: Development and Debate

Synopsis

There is a growing perception among economists that their field is becoming increasingly irrelevant due to its disregard for reality. Critical realism addresses the failure of mainstream economics to explain economic reality and proposes an alternative approach. This book debates the relative strengths and weaknesses of critical realism, in the hopes of developing a more fruitful and relevant socio-economic ontology and methodology, With contributions from some of the leading authorities in economic philosophy, it includes the work of theorists critical of this approach.

In the first part, contributors develop and deepen economics as a realist social theory by considering the work of individuals, various schools of thought, socio-economic phenomena and methodology. In the second part, contributors weigh the strengths and weaknesses of critical realism.

Excerpt

If being subject to continued development and enthusiastic criticism are signs of a project in a good state then the venture systematised as critical realism in economics is in a healthy condition indeed. So much is this so that special issues of economics journals are appearing devoted wholly to this project's development or to debating its limitations. Two such special issues are collected together here. the first set of chapters, constituting Part I of the book, and originally published in the Review of Social Economy, are primarily concerned with both critical and constructive developments in the critical realist project in economics. the second set of chapters, constituting Part ii, and recently published in Ekonomia, mainly consists of criticisms of the project as formulated by economic methodologists adopting alternative perspectives. Part ii also includes a response by Tony Lawson.

My reason for reproducing this collection of papers is a suspicion that they have a potential audience significantly wider than that group of economists with easy access to specific journals, coupled with the conviction that they deserve to be widely read. My motivation in combining the two sets of contributions, one largely concerned with developing the project, the other with identifying its limitations, is an expectation that a sufficient understanding of the project can more readily be achieved when the aims, achievements and interpretations of those enamoured with the project are laid alongside the criticisms or reservations of those who hold a more sceptical, and perhaps even a hostile, stance.

This book follows in the wake of another, of course. the basic project of critical realism in economics has recently received its most systematic and comprehensive elaboration in Tony Lawson's Economics and Reality. Indeed it is mostly towards arguments found in the latter that the following chapters are developmentally or critically oriented. Because of this emphasis upon extension and debate, some of the contributions which follow inevitably take certain of the basic categories, terminology and indeed results of the critical realist project in economics as given. However, both parts of the current volume contain introductory or

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