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Beyond talking the talk: towards a critical pluralist practice

Freeman, Alan and Kliman, Andrew (2005): Beyond talking the talk: towards a critical pluralist practice. Published in: Post-Autistic Economics Review No. 40 (1 December 2006): pp. 26-53.

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This is a pre-publication version of a paper that appeared in Post-Autistic Economics Review No. 40. Please cite it as Freeman, A. and Andrew Kliman. 2006. ‘Beyond Talking the Talk: Towards a Critical Pluralist Practice”. Post-autistic economics review issue no. 40, 1 December 2006, article 4, pp.26-53.

This paper, initially presented at the AHE 2005 conference, was one of the earliest to argue that pluralism in economics requires formal rules of conduct to guarantee pluralism in research. These should provide for transparent and professional standards for research, presentation and editorial judgement.

The guiding principle of this reform is what we term critical pluralism. There are two key ideas in this. The first is that truth, or progress towards it, arises only if empirical reality is tested against a multiplicity of theoretical explanations of that reality. Pluralism is thus not a normative or ethically desirable adjunct to science but a necessary prerequisite to producing valid knowledge. Critical pluralism would, therefore, impose on the researcher the obligation to

• engage with, and critically examine, explanations alternative to her own;

• clearly state the alternative presuppositions which differentiate her own explanation of observed reality from the alternatives considered;

• clearly identify the evidence in support of her own conclusion

• clearly identify the evidence that supports the researcher’s interpretation of the alternative views against which she tests her conclusions, in order to provide for a fair test.

The article concludes with a statement of the guidelines of the International Working Group on Value Theory (IWGVT) for pluralistic writing in economics.

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