Sunday, December 09, 2007


Peter Boettke has a very interesting post on pluralism:
One of our loyal and precocious readers has repeatedly asked for debate and contending theoretical perspectives. I agree that an intellectual openness to alternative methods and theoretical perspectives would be healthy for the economics profession. But I have always found the demand for pluralism to be completely inappropriate at the level of the individual.

At the level of the individual scientist, in their work as scientists, they have to commit themselves to an approach and pursue it doggedly even in the face of great doubt and resistence by one's peers. Think of scholars in economics such as Jim Buchanan with public choice and rational choice political philosophy, or Hayek on the epistemic turn required in economics and political economy, or Vernon Smith and experimental economics. One could also think of Paul Samuelson and mathematical economics. All paradigmatic shifts in science are a result of the dogged commitment of individual scholars to a particular perspective methodologically and theoretically. As Michael Polanyi points out in Personal Knowledge, science progresses through commitment by individual scholars and the contentious play between differently committed scholars in the 'republic of science'.

So pluralism is a by-product, not a cause of scientific progress.

Read the whole thing.

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