Archive for December 1st, 2009

I don’t think I am reaching by saying that heterodox approaches to economics are epistemologically different from mainstream approaches. For example, many ecological economists simply disavow things that environmental economists. take as given, such as GDP. We can probably find similar discrepancies in terms of what different sub-disciplines view as valid or invalid types of data. It would also be interesting to see how these differences crop up at the country level. Daniel Little writes about a new paper by sociologist Gabriel Abend, which looks at epistemological differences between sociological articles published in Mexican versus American journals. The differences are striking:

U.S. sociologists see the burden of their work to fall in the category of testing or confirming sociological hypotheses.  Mexican sociologists see the burden of their work in detailing and analyzing complex social phenomena at a fairly factual level.  “93 percent of M-ART are principally driven by the comprehension of an empirical problem” (10)…

U.S. sociologists are strongly wedded to the hypothetico-deductive model of confirmation and explanation.  This model plays very little role in the arguments presented in the sample of articles from Mexican sociologists…

U.S. authors attempt to exclude value judgments; Mexican author incorporate value judgments into their empirical analysis.

A similar study for economics would be very interesting. What epistemological criteria would we look at for either a cross-country or intra-discipline comparison? Reliance on boilerplate derivations of second-order utility functions? Embrace of “normative” criteria? Emphasis on the poliocy

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