The Economic Basis of Peace: Linkages between Economic Growth and International Conflict

By William H. Mott IV | Go to book overview

Appendix N: On Lawlike Regularities

Ubiquitous in natural science, and remarkable in their simplicity, physical laws rely on a few independent variables in relationships that explain behaviors of complex systems. Formulation of laws involves making simplifying assumptions, finding limiting conditions under which they hold, and recognizing cases where they do not hold. Somewhat less rigorous than pure law, a "lawlike regularity" must regularly provide a "reasonably good" explication of the evidence. While laws reflect accurately a specific system's behavior, the utility of a lawlike regularity lies in the variety of cases to which it applies, rather than precision of fit to any particular case.

Awareness of how a lawlike relationship fits into other available information outside the regularity is as important as discovery of the regularity itself. Additional information may have great theoretical and empirical importance, or lead to refinements of the lawlike relationship. A regular relationship cannot be said to describe the lawlike aspects of a process unless there exists a viable theoretical explanation of why the observed relationship is what it is. Without a theoretical model of the process underlying a regularity, its worth as a lawlike relationship cannot be determined. Moreover, the operation of such a model must be verifiable independently of the regularity itself. As in the physical sciences, explanations of social scientific systems need not be complicated, complex, or even profound.

Neither laws nor lawlike relationships are necessarily causal; indeed they may originate in the coincidence of chance with purpose. Specification of causal ordering suffers from each of two contradictory weaknesses:

Because models can at best approximate reality, some variables are always excluded from any equation; it is therefore not possible to establish dear causality among several interrelated variables.

Reality does not consist of simultaneous causal dependencies, but rather of recursive, hierarchical relationships; it is therefore, possible to determine dear causal relations.

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The Economic Basis of Peace: Linkages between Economic Growth and International Conflict
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Economics and Economic History ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • Notes 6
  • 2 - Historical Perspectives 9
  • Notes 30
  • 3 - Theoretical Approaches 37
  • Notes 97
  • 4 - An Empirical Approach 107
  • Notes 164
  • 5 - A Quandary and a Conjecture 171
  • Notes 188
  • 6 - What It All Means 193
  • Notes 229
  • Appendix A: On Economic Stagnation 237
  • Notes 238
  • Appendix B: On the Three Traditions 239
  • Notes 240
  • Appendix C: On Long Waves 241
  • Notes 243
  • Appendix D: On Foreign Investment 244
  • Note 245
  • Appendix E: On Division of Labor 246
  • Notes 246
  • Appendix F: On Alternative Economies 248
  • Notes 249
  • Appendix G: On Protoindustrialization 251
  • Notes 252
  • Appendix H: On Confidence Levels 253
  • Note 254
  • Appendix I: On Growth Processes 255
  • Notes 256
  • Appendix J: On Static Models 257
  • Appendix K: On Defense of Realism 259
  • Notes 260
  • Appendix L: On Growth Strategies 261
  • Appendix M: On Dualism and Growth 262
  • Notes 265
  • Appendix N: On Lawlike Regularities 267
  • Notes 269
  • Bibliography 271
  • Author Index 289
  • Subject Index 293
  • About the Author 305
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