Samuels on Methodological Pluralism in Economics
John B. Davis
Marquette University; University of Amsterdam; Tinbergen Institute
February 29, 2012
Warren Samuels was an influential proponent of methodological pluralism in economics. This short paper discusses his understanding of methodological pluralism, and argues that it is based on three distinct components: (1) his critique of the idea that theories have epistemic foundations and his ‘matrix approach to meaningfulness,’ (2) his belief that the absence of meta-principles for science combined with our human psychology create an existential dilemma for theorists and policy-makers, and (3) his understanding of relativism, social constructivism, and ‘limited but affirmative’ defense of nihilism against the charge of skepticism. The paper closes with a brief discussion of what Samuels’ methodological pluralism might tell us about historiography and the history of economics.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 26
Keywords: Samuels, methodological pluralism, economic methodology, economics profession
JEL Classification: B23, B31, B41
Date posted: February 29, 2012
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