Social Economics: Premises, Findings and Policies

By Edward J.O'Boyle | Go to book overview

PART I

On the origins of values and premises in social economics

A research program, such as neoclassicism, may be defined as a series of theories which share a common "hard core" belief which is irrefutable by decision of the protagonists. An example of part of the hard core is the premise of certainty or correct knowledge of an economic situation found in the neoclassical or orthodox strain of economics. The research program of Keynes or Schumpeter, on the other hand, presume the opposite; an uncertainty premise making their research programs essentially different from neoclassicism. Such hard core elements of a research program may not be so well articulated…. It is in fact, not in the nature of a research program to question the hard core. One should not confuse the axioms of a theoretical framework (say, perfect competition or maximizing profits in neoclassicism) with the hard core beliefs. The former are stated very specifically, the latter are given a silent treatment and are thus protected from conscious scrutiny.

(William R. Waters (1986) "Evolution of Science in General and Economics in Particular," Forum for Social Economics, Fall: 62-3)

Economic sociology's importance is that it identifies values, ideas, institutions, organizations and motivations including property rights, ideologies, cultural, political and all related structures in society as they impinge upon material welfare. If economic science is meant to explain reality, how can the economist do without it?

(William R. Waters (1991/1992) "Schumpeter The Sociologist-A Review Article," Forum for Social Economics, Fall/Spring: 51)

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