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Mainstream Aversion to Economic Methodology and the Scientific Ideal of Physics

Drakopoulos, Stavros A. (2014): Mainstream Aversion to Economic Methodology and the Scientific Ideal of Physics.

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Abstract

There is a persistent aversion towards methodological discourse by most mainstream economists. Frank Hahn (1992) exemplified this attitude and provoked a number of reactions concerning the role and the reasons for methodological aversion. After offering a categorization of the main explanations for methodological aversion, the paper suggests an explanation that is based on the role of the physics scientific ideal. It argues that the strive to achieve the high scientific status of physics by following the methods of physics, contributed to the negative mainstream attitude towards economic methodology. This can be reinforced by examining the writings of extremely influential mainstream economists such as Irwin Fisher and Milton Friedman. These works clearly imply that the hard science status of economics renders methodological discussions and especially methodological criticism, rather pointless. Given that the existing prescriptions for making economic methodology more attractive do not give much thought to this important aspect of mainstream economics, the paper also argues for a more systematic discussion of this issue.

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