Dewey, Pragmatism and Economic Methodology

Dewey, Pragmatism and Economic Methodology

Dewey, Pragmatism and Economic Methodology

Dewey, Pragmatism and Economic Methodology

Synopsis

This book brings together philosophers of pragmatism and economists interested in methodological questions. The main theoretical thrust of Dewey is to unite inquiry with behaviour and this book's contributions assess this insight in the light of developments in modern American philosophy.

Excerpt

The essays in this volume were presented at a conference that took place in July 2001 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The Behavioral Research Council (BRC), a division of the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), sponsored the conference to assess the recent revitalization of John Dewey in relation to debates surrounding postmodernism in philosophy, on one hand, and to methodological controversies in economics, on the other.

History and purpose

When BRC invited the contributors to this volume, many were surprised to learn that John Dewey's philosophy, especially his collaboration with Arthur Bentley, has informed and guided for many decades the work of AIER. In fact, AIER uses Dewey and Bentley's Knowing and the Known as the backbone of its workshops and summer school. Colonel E.C. Harwood, the founder of AIER, came to value and promote Dewey and Bentley's theory of inquiry as early as 1950, about the time when pragmatism was eclipsed by analytical philosophy in major departments of philosophy in the United States.

Harwood (1900-1981), a self-educated man, founded AIER in 1933 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as a non-profit, educational organization. Harwood wanted to spread economic education so that the average citizen could protect himself from such economic hardships as those experienced by many during the Great Depression. AIER is wholly supported by subscriptions to its newsletter, sales of its publications, and contributions by individuals. According to its bylaws, AIER cannot accept any funding from corporations, foundations, or government agencies.

When Harwood started to read the books and pamphlets written by economists in the 1920s, he was struck by how far apart they were in their explanations of such core disciplinary concepts as the nature of money, the business cycle, and economic growth. As he tried to decipher such divergent views, he was surprised by the scant use of empirical findings, not to mention the lack of a common terminology and a common set of procedures for communicating differences in views. In Dewey's and Bentley's only major

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