Foundations of Research in Economics: How Do Economists Do Economics?

Foundations of Research in Economics: How Do Economists Do Economics?

Foundations of Research in Economics: How Do Economists Do Economics?

Foundations of Research in Economics: How Do Economists Do Economics?

Synopsis

This stimulating and authoritative book features original essays from leading scholars - each of which address the question: how should economists do economics? A diverse commentary emerges on how economics is done and how it should be done.

Excerpt

Steven G. Medema and Warren J. Samuels

Throughout its existence as an organized discipline, economics has been heterogeneous. The twentieth century has witnessed neoclassical dominance but that dominance has prevented neither heterogeneity within neoclassicism nor heterogeneity within economics as a whole. The latter points to multiple schools of heterodox economic thought in wider or narrower conflict with neoclassicism -- and these heterodox schools have themselves been heterogeneous. Economists have differed as to the name of their subject (it was once called political economy and many still revere the name, albeit for various reasons), as to the central problem and scope of economics, as to the methodology which economists are to follow, as to the content and goals of graduate training in economics, as to the corpus of theory and its stature, as to school of thought, as to the nature of the discipline's paradigm, as to whether economics ultimately and fundamentally deals with 'truth' or with more or less contrived models and puzzles which have no direct relationship to the actual economy (or as to whether economics deals with truth or with tools), as to the rise to prominence of technique over substance, as to the general health of the discipline, and so on. A war over scope and method was waged during the late nineteenth century, the famous Methodenstreit, and the issues then disputed have never been, and indeed, can never be conclusively or satisfactorily resolved; and never have they been more rampant than in the late twentieth century. Controversies rage over ontological, epistemological, and theoretical monism versus pluralism -- and their specific identities and rationales. The tension between open-endedness versus exclusivism pervades the discipline, though often ignored as individuals practice economics their own way or the way of their school or coterie. There is perhaps literally no way that economics can be done that does not elicit criticism from some rival or dissonant quarter. The equation by some of economics with theory and especially with neoclassical theory exacerbates the subtle tensions and overt conflicts -- though that is to be expected given a dominant school of thought.

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